I arrived home from the gym one morning recently and poured myself some coffee and checked my email. My daughter, who had been at a doctor’s appointment had arrived a few minutes earlier and was working at her desk.
I walked into the room that serves as our dining room, theater room, game room, breakfast room and extension of the kitchen and noticed a small leather jewel box about the size of a hardback book sitting open in my big leather chair. It usually resides in my top dresser drawer with a lot of other stuff I don’t know what else to do with. Pulled out of it were two rolls of iron pennies my paternal grandfather had collected and passed on to his grandchildren assuming they would be of great value one day.
Still tucked into a strap in the jewel box was a two dollar bill wrapped around my draft card and a duplicate. The duplicate has my correct birthday in 1945 and the original was carefully altered to make me a little older so I could buy booze before I was 21. I hope the statute of limitations has expired on that crime.
My immediate question was what could my daughter be looking for in my dresser and why take it out of my bedroom. When I asked her about it her reaction was to connect it to the open screen in her room. The Sherlock Holmes in me immediately concluded “We’ve been robbed.”
We’ve had several daylight burglaries like this in the neighborhood in the last few years. In fact, I had a call from an alarm company when my next door neighbor’s alarm was set off and neither of them could be contacted. I was at home but didn’t hear the alarm. Same MO. But I’ve lived in Durham for 30 years and I’ve been in this home 13 or 14 years and I’ve never been burglarized before.
I know a lot of people say they feel “violated” after a burglary. I kept waiting for the feeling but it never came. It was more bemusement. I had to wonder why they choose my house. Are these guys idiots? Are they guys? There has to be better targets than my modest abode. I hate to admit it but I often leave the house open if I’m only going to be gone for an hour or less.
We called the police, of course. They didn’t rush in sirens wailing, guns drawn with the crime scene team right behind them or anything. They took the report standing in the room and were there maybe fifteen or twenty minutes looking a little bored.
Initially we believed the thieves got some costume jewelry from my daughter’s room, and two old wedding bands from my jewel box, one unused since 1988 and the other since 2000. In my bedroom they left 4 watches and that worked but took two…I just realized…that haven’t worked in years but were momentos of Notre Dame football teams I was on. If I was a famous jock now in the NFL Hall of Fame like OJ Simpson they might have had some collectible value but I’m not and they don’t. Strange.
My daughter moved in here last July with her young daughter bringing two “U-Box” shipping containers. One was filled with toys most of which are in my living room now. None of the toys were taken, unfortunately, because I’m sick of looking at them.
They also got an iPad of my daughter’s and an old Android tablet of mine. On my tablet…if they cracked the code to open it they could read some of my email that day or my facebook musings but not after I changed my passwords. Maybe they could see if they could beat my scores in Hearts.
A few days after the burglary I got a call from an investigator. She asked me to identify the wedding rings I had lost. Physically I could describe them but had only vague memories of the inscriptions. She asked about class rings and, sure enough, they got my Notre Dame class ring that I also haven’t worn in years and had forgotten to report.
It looks like I might get some of the stuff back but I haven’t yet. There have been some other interesting reactions to the incident.
First there were the solicitations from alarm companies. They must go look at the crime reports or something. I won’t tip off what I did but I had monitored alarms for ten or eleven years in this home but I dropped it during the recession. I’m sure the $35 a month I spent for that service totaled far more than the value of the stolen stuff.
To those who say “Get a dog!” there are two here, but one is a 17 year old bichon and the other a 5 year old Teacup Yorkie. They didn’t deter the burglar although the latter acts fiercer than any pit bull I have known. The cats I’m sure ignored them like they do everyone else until they’re hungry.
The word of the burglary got around quickly on the listserve that serves our Neighborhood Watch although the details seemed to change with each comment. Until recently our Neighborhood Watch really just serves as a good excuse to have a block party every August in honor of National Night Out.
One other strange thing happened. I noticed after the burglary, that every once in a while I find the webcam on my computer with it’s little green light on. This usually signifies that the camera is recording but none of my applications that use it are running. Could the burglars somehow be casing the house through my wifi and webcam? Sorry dudes, all you’re going to see is my ugly face and I’ve got even less to steal now than during your last visit.
I’ve often fantasized about what I might do if I actually caught a burglar in my home. I did eye differently a two foot piece of PVC pipe I have next to my bed. I use it sort of like a rolling pin on the advice of a physical therapist to loosen up my calf muscles. It occurred to me it would also be a good club, so I’ll leave it there. I’ve never imagined more than pulling out a few fingernails but I think what I would rather do if I caught someone, is tie them up, cut off their clothes and dump them naked in front of the Wyndsong Theater near the police substation just before a late movie got out. While I was tying them up I would describe my version Sharia law and why I’m such a big fan of it. My chainsaw would be sitting on the counter.