Eight years ago today, burglars broke into my house.
I came home from work for lunch and found my front door standing wide open. Someone had hit or kicked the door with enough force that the deadbolt lock had been ripped away from the door and was hanging from the doorframe.
My house wasn't the only one. Sheriff's office detectives who investigated determined that at least two, probably more, burglars had parked in the driveway between my daughter's house (right in front of mine) and our neighbor's house on the other side of the driveway. First they'd broken the doors on all three houses. At my daughter's house and the neighbor's, they'd helped themselves to TVs, VCRs, microwaves, computers, and everything else they could carry in the bedspreads and blankets they stole right off the beds. They'd pulled mattresses off the beds and dumped the contents of dresser drawers, apparently looking for cash and smaller valuables. They'd even stolen all the meat from the freezers. (I guess all that bashing in doors and running with loot works up a hearty appetite.)
The biggest scare of the day came when we realized our telephone lines had been cut. That made us think the burglars had considered--and weren't deterred by--the possibility that someone was inside one of the homes and might try to call for help. That fact sent chills up my spine. Later, the detectives reassured us that the burglars were most likely trying to cut security system wires rather than the phone lines.
We found a paycheck stub in the grass, and the sheriff's office traced it back to a guy who'd reported his pickup truck stolen that same morning. Other than that, there were no good clues, and nobody was ever arrested and charged with these crimes.
Insurance paid for the items that were stolen and the damage to the doors, less the deductible, of course. The unreimbursable costs were much higher. It took time to file insurance claims, shop to replace the stolen items, take off work while security systems and brand-new doors were installed. There was no compensation for the sleep we lost as we lay awake and listened for unfamiliar noises outside. We didn't get a dime for the sense of security that took months to rebuild.
The one bright spot of the day was that nothing--nada, zip, zilch--was stolen from my house. When I walked through it with the detective, he asked me twice if I was sure nothing had been taken, but everything was exactly like I'd left it that morning. For that bit of good fortune, I take full credit.
You see, I'm not a great housekeeper under normal circumstances, and that week I'd started a new job (the one I have now). My home was in chaos. Laundry was piled up all over the living room, waiting to be folded. Tabletops were covered with haphazard stacks of newspapers, magazines and mail. My bed was unmade, the bedding in a tangled heap I'd created after hitting the snooze alarm one last time.
I'm firmly convinced that any burglar who might have intended to ransack my house took one quick look around and decided that one of the others had beaten him to it.
Rest assured, that powerful anti-theft strategy is still in place. I highly recommend it.