Columns Crime

So…we were burgled last week…

Do you feel safe in your home? I do. Do you know and trust your neighbors? I do. Do you leave items on your porch, in an unlocked car, sitting unchained in your yard? I do. Do you recognize that dopey, glazed-over feeling of living without incident in your home for 10 years? I do. That is, I did until Sunday evening.

Charles was going to mow my lawn. He asked,” What did you do with the lawnmower?”

I looked at him as if he’d just grown horns, “Nothing. It’s in the garage.”

I followed him outside and found what I didn’t find. My lawnmower was gone. My shovel, his spade, and other yard tools—including a pole saw unopened in the box—were gone. Charles shouted that his yellow toolbox, his old Skilsaw, and other tools were gone from his side of the garage. Easily, $300 worth of fishing rods were AWOL. Sometime Saturday afternoon or Sunday, we had been robbed! (Creek County Sheriff Bret Bowling corrected me: “Burgled, robbery’s more heinous.”

I felt sick. The solid garage walls wobbled. The earth was sliding around under my feet. I watched carefully as I walked my yard, fearing that I would be swallowed up at any moment. Is that the moment that feeling safe and being safe collide? Is anyone ever truly safe? Isn’t the idea of safety a social construct, to keep us all from toting around cocked rifles 24/7? Would that keep you unquestionably safe or make you part of the unsafe reality?

Related: What to do if you’re ever robbed, and how to recover your stolen items.

I know when my Navy spouse and I had guns in our house, I did not feel safe. I felt more vulnerable, with guns reinforcing my husband’s bullying, enticing my sons to act out, and, in fact, inviting evil into our home. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the power over life and death is too much power for me.

I found my eternal optimist and thought: This isn’t too bad; bad would be car-jacked with your toddler in the back seat, stabbed or shot in your bed, a child missing. This was a pain, an inconvenience.

I may have been in shock. I don’t remember what happened until the police arrived. I wandered around my back yard noticing that my workhorse, a plastic, dumping wagon was not in my garden. Now, I was mad!

Officers Davis and Brogdon arrived quickly and walked the crime scene with us. They were kind, thorough, and professional. I immediately felt protected and supported, as if the King’s Men were down on their knees, trying to put me back together again.

Through a series of back-and-forth postings and the vigilance of our caring neighbors, Charles was able to figure out that some of our belongings were at a local thrift shop.

We called the police to tell them and were informed that the officers involved were off duty and wouldn’t be back until Wednesday. This was NEWS to me—We had to wait until Wednesday to add further information or unfolding events to the original report! Somehow the urgency of our things ready to be sold to some unsuspecting customer was lost on dispatch (and the Justice system.)

Later, we found my lawnmower and boxed pole saw “staged” behind a shed in my back yard, with a white plastic bag carefully wrapped around a weed, signaling the place in the alley to stop. We locked them up! And discovered some other items missing.

Charles confronted Shop Owner X who shall remain nameless until court. He and the Landlord knew Charles 20 years (who doesn’t?) but no one took his word for the situation. Shop Owner X was glad to sell us our belongings at a greatly reduced price. After checking with higher authority, the police determined that the thrift store items were detailed in a police report and that Shop Owner X did, in fact, have to return our items.

Is it also a coincidence, that the next day Charles’ business building was vandalized? Um, no.

It will take some time to feel safe again. Meanwhile, I lock up everything, video-record all my belongings, and feel grateful for generous neighbors—and mow my own grass with my own lawnmower.