Uninvited guests

18 May

True, you can’t always get what you want. In fact, we often have to deal with unexpected and sometimes unpleasant surprises. These come in many forms:

Bugs: Not a great picture, I know, but this is a spider that tried to make its home on my leg, exactly as I started to write this post, so it had to be included.




Birds: This dude just about scared me to death. Larger than he seems in this picture to me, he took my breath away and then gave me a look that told me that he just didn’t care. And he would be happy to crap all over my car again if I dared to come closer.


The things about spiders and weeds and birds is that they can be annoying, but they don’t really take anything away. Last night, while my sweet Mike was very kindly taking care of me (complete with shoulder rub, meds, and ice pack) and my migraine-like headache, we had a moment in which we realized we had had an uninvited guest who did take away: our things, our sense of security, and now our time. Sometime after I left and before he came home, someone robbed us. At first, its (for me) kind of like seeing that falcon on my car. It startled me, and then it shut me up. I went into business mode: check that no one besides us was in the house and call 911. Report what happened, provide the address, make a list of what was taken.

Slowly, it starts sinking in. The first thing that we noticed missing was my new computer. The one he’d given me for our first married Valentine’s Day (it doesn’t sound romantic, but it felt that way to me). I immediately started rationalizing: its just a thing, it can be replaced. But can you replace the pearls that your mom gave you that her mom gave her? Or the diamond earrings that your parents give you upon graduation from college? Can you just “get a new one” when you are talking about the diamond necklace you wore when you got married? And maybe I can get an even more technically superior camera than the one that I had, but its going to be hard to get a do-over on the birthday gift that my future husband gave me the 1st time he told me he loved me. Or of the pictures I hadn’t downloaded from our first real vacation together. I stayed in something close to business mode until today, and then I saw that my iPod was also taken. For reasons I can’t explain, that was my undoing. I lost it. Tears. Anger. The whole 9.

Other than our passports (which we need eminently, and my husband needs urgently for a project at work that is taking us to Germany in a short while) and my husband’s computer, every single thing that whoever decided to play God with my stuff took was a gift. It hurts, I’m not going to lie. Its more than that it was an invasion of my space (and believe you me, it was: the only thing that got rummaged during the robbery was my dresser; someone else likes Vicky, I guess), this person(s), who from now on will be known as El Jerko, took many of the emblems of my story.

If you’d known me even just a few years ago, you would be very surprised to read the rest of this post. I lived for years at a time without locking my apartment door. I would say things like, “If they need to steal it, they need it worse than me” or “I will not live in fear like that.” Well… I’m a tad older and a lot smarter than that.

I did some research, what in the scientific world could be called applied research because its lessons learned. I thought I’d pass it on.

1. For those of us who enjoy an attractive landscape – use the flora for good, not evil. There’s a 3×6 rule: keep the shrubs and bushes less than 3 feet, and keep the tree limbs trimmed back to at least 6 feet off the ground. This helps to ensure that your would-be robber isn’t getting any privacy that s/he doesn’t deserve. The average burglar will spend less than 1 minute trying to get into your house – make sure that minute can count for you! This also includes ensuring that you aren’t leaving implements about that your would-be burglar could use – no ladders, rakes, axes, shovels, or even tables near windows or ledges.

2. “Like a Good Neighbor” is an insurance slogan for a reason. Your neighborhood network really is a great line of defense. Unfortunately, our neighbors weren’t at home (a huge chunk of home invasions happen during the day when people are less likely to be home, which is good news for safety, but less good news for your stuff), but it really is a good idea to talk to your neighbors and keep up with when they will be home and when they won’t, and agree to watch each other’s back when it comes to suspicious characters.

3. Most break-ins are crimes of opportunity. Meaning, of course, that the burglar encounters little resistance, and voila, it falls right into their hands. So, the obvious: lock your doors and windows (even at night, when so many enjoy the cool night air, an open window can appear to be an open invitation; the majority of burglaries occur during summer months when people are both more likely to go on vacation and more likely to have open windows). And even inside, don’t leave the goods in plain sight. Most home invasions happen and stay on the 1st floor – good to know when deciding where to put important things. Our passports were on our dining room table because Mike had to take the to work per the Germany project and they hadn’t made it to the “important papers” file. I had just taken my camera out of my purse yesterday morning and left it on top of the chair. The easier it is to grab, the more likely they are to do so. The opportunistic nature of home robberies also means that if you are going to be away from the house for substantial lengths of time, it may pay off to create a little illusion. Leave a car parked in the driveway (if possible), use timers and lights strategically, ensure that the mail/paper is not accumulating, etc.

So here I am. Minus many of my favorite gifts. But, I’m still here, and I do still have the most wonderful story for me. My story is just not going to be one of a sitting duck anymore. (I do want to add that even before this happened to us, I wasn’t being stupid anymore. I do, in fact, lock the doors in an almost OCD-like fashion.)

Sitting Duck


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