I’ve mentioned it here and there in the past. Made remarks about missing photos due to lack of a camera in early posts. I’ve never actually spoken about it on the blog before though. Probably because I hate more than anything re-living that night.
Three years ago to this date the apartment in which we were renting was burglarized. Burglarized and trashed would make it more accurate. All doors and windows were secured and locked.
It was a Thursday night. Al was at a local concert with some buddies, I was having dinner at my friend Alison’s place. She lived 10 minutes away from us, so after dinner I walked home. I had a backpack on my back and a tool box in my left hand. I just happened to stop and pick up a small yellow tool box after work that day. We had only moved in two months earlier, had been married a month and were still getting settled in our home and in our lives together.
I approached the front door and noticed a dim light from inside, I figured we must have forgotten to shut it off when we left that morning. I opened the front door and noticed the closet door in the hall open a bit, light on, same thought process. I looked in the living room, as of now I had only take about two steps into the house, the small TV was gone. I do not joke when I tell you my first thought was that Al took the TV with him to his friends’ house. But then I saw the storage ottoman. The one with all my camera equipment. Thrown on the couch and empty. I ran back outside, stood on the front steps and called Al. It was something I still did not want to believe.
I knew he wouldn’t answer, he was at a concert, how would he hear his phone? He answered on the first ring, I happened to call while the band was taking a break. Within seconds I was sobbing, running down the street back to Alison’s house. He told me he was getting in a cab immediately and would meet me at Alison’s. I called Alison, sobbing. Even though I was half way to her house she still got in the car and picked me up on the side of the road. I called my Mom, sobbing. She started crying too. All the while I had no clue what had occurred in my home. But my gut knew.
The cab arrived, Al hopped in the car with us and Alison brought us back. On the way we called the police. We arrived first, just minutes ahead of them. Al took one walk down the side of the house and saw the window in the office wide open, drapes blowing out it.
This was not our home. The place we were trying so hard to make our own. Furniture was moved, papers on the floor. Our bedroom was trashed. Every article of clothing from the dressers and closets were thrown everywhere. Every purse I owned was basically turned inside out. There were boot prints on our bed.
It didn’t take long to see the loss. Seconds, actually. The television, Mac computer, DSLR camera, lenses and accessories, other digital cameras, iPods, jewelry. Materialistic things. But still, our things. Things we’d worked our asses off to pay for and treat ourselves to. We knew we could replace those, in due time. It’s the things like my pearl necklace and Al’s grandfathers ruby ring, those irreplaceable things that hurt the worst.
The detective came that night, did his best. Took fingerprints, took serial numbers of the electronics and other information he needed that we could provide. Gave us tips for staying safe and moving forward. He told us how they’d gotten in. It didn’t matter that the windows were locked. With a crow bar, they were easily able to pry apart the top and bottom window and pop the lock off for easy access. The locks to the windows were outside on the ground.
Alison took us in that night. There was no way I was staying in our apartment. We stayed in her room while she stayed on a futon. Neither Al, nor I slept a wink. How could we? I laid awake sobbing quietly; the feeling of having been so violated was hard to get past.
Al went to work the next day, he had just started a new job, he had to. I didn’t. I couldn’t, I think I had officially cried for nearly 12 hours straight. I refused to be in that apartment alone though, so he stayed with me until my parents got there. My mom helped me clean the entire place, we must have done ten loads of laundry. Everything was getting washed since it was all over the floor. The bedding, we stripped and washed. My Dad went to Home Depot and bought wood slats to secure up the windows. It was going to be a few weeks before the replacements would be installed.
I wouldn’t arrive home alone for months. I’d go out and drive around or walk around a store until Al got out of work. I’ll never forget the day I finally was brave enough to go home alone. I had picked up some used furniture and knew I’d have to go home to drop it off first. As I was unloading, a family out for a walk stopped me. They greeted me and asked if I knew anything about the robbery that had occurred a few months earlier on that street. I instantly felt my eyes fill with tears. I answered them. They were shocked to find out that it was actually me whose home it was, they felt incredibly sorry and stated that there hadn’t been a robbery in 13 years in that neighborhood. It brought me immediately back to that day; why did it have to happen to us?
It’s hard to believe it’s been three years. Over time we’ve heeled, Al faster than me. I think I’m still in the heeling process, I’m not sure I’ll ever be out of it. It was just too hard for me. Not so much the loss, but the violation, the fear, the lack of control that either of us had in the situation.
We learned a lot though, and that’s why I wrote this post. Your home is supposed to be the place you feel safe, protected. You shouldn’t fear it, whether you’ve had an experience like this or not. I’m a big believer that you should always be proactive; this can happen in any type of neighborhood or community. We lived in a pretty safe area, with a large community, an elementary school just steps away and it still happened in broad day light to us. Now though, I take some extreme measures when we’re in and away from our home.
The next post today will follow-up with tips, links and further reading on staying safe.
Please know that I did not write this to scare you. That was not my intention at all. I wrote it to bring awareness, educate you and share an experience that has impacted our lives past, present and future forever. I have strong feelings about safety in your own home and not fearing where you live, which is why I’ve gone ahead and written these posts.