Home-Burglary Prevention Tips, or, When A**holes Steal Your Sh*t

We’ve had our home broken into twice now, once in Kansas and once in California, so I feel like kind of an expert at getting burglarized. For the record: Seriously? It sucks. The first time was in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm. We were home, sleeping, with twin babies in the next bedroom. It was a much worse feeling that time, being home when it happened and thinking “what if” when we woke the next morning to an open back door, footprints outside the kids’ window, and mud sludged across our living room rug. The second time was recently, on a bright, sunny morning, after I took my youngest to her first day of pre-school and went to a yoga class to celebrate my new freedom. I was literally taking a moment of silence, asking that all beings everywhere know peace and compassion, while some stranger was ransacking my home.

Each time it happened, the perp came in through the back door. I’ve found that there are two ways people react to this information: those who ask “Was the door locked?” and those who realize this is the last fucking question you want to answer right now. We used to believe that not locking the door made some sort of vague statements about how we don’t live in fear, and trust in the goodness of mankind, and weren’t attached to our possessions. But after being robbed TWICE, now when I get home, I patiently unlock the locked door, wonder if anyone has been there, confirm that the TV is still in front of the couch and openly admit that 1) I live in fear, 2) I don’t trust anyone, and 3) I like my shit.

If you happen to know anyone who has a habit of burglarizing houses in order to make ends meet, will you kindly pass the word that some of us would prefer skipping over the trauma and just writing a check? If given the choice, I would rather just pay the monetary value of my new laptop that had 10,000 words of a novel on it (no, I didn’t back it up), more than what my husband paid for my wedding ring eight years ago, and even add a bonus not to have the contents of my recently-organized closet thrown all over the floor.

So, here is a list I’ve come up with to better prepare myself and our home for the next time it happens:

1) Ninjas.

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We can’t afford real ninjas right now, but I think these guys will do the trick. Just look what one of them did to the little mermaids who tried to sneak in:

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2) Organization. It really saves intruders from having to go through all your wedding memorabilia and family pictures if you keep your cash on the counter in an envelope clearly labeled “CASH.”

3) Guard Cat.

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We had an 80-pound dog that was bred for hunting who slept through the entire first burglary, so this time, we immediately went out and got a cat. She may look sweet, but she’s never without her plastic arrows and eats BEES for breakfast without flinching. (Well, she flinches a little, but, I mean, they’re bees. Have you even been stung by a bee? That shit hurts.)

4) Legal Drugs. Keep anti-anxiety meds in an old Flintstone Vitamin container. Thieves looking for pharmaceuticals will leave your Xanax, which you will need promptly after you realize you’ve been robbed. Just make sure your kids know you’ve switched them to Trader Joe’s brand.

5) Message. Nothing says “you’re not welcome here” like fresh flowers, soft lighting, and even a bottle of wine, should a criminal need to take the edge off his mission.

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6) Community. Because it’s really embarrassing to meet new neighbors in the following circumstances: 1) Having one of them find you hysterical in the driveway, trying to decided if burglary counts as an emergency or if you are going to be bothering the 911-people, should you call, or 2) Accusing another, who just moved in down the street and happened to be unloading his electronics that morning, of stealing your stuff.

7) Trickery. To really throw off intruders, leave booby-traps like tap shoes filled with cherry tomatoes all over the house. They won’t know whether they’re coming or going. Get the kids involved in this one. After all, they don’t want to lose another Wii.

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All sarcasm aside, after I’d had a Xanax and a margarita, it occurred to me that as long as people like me lived with the luxuries and comfort we take for granted, there will probably be others living in need and desperation. The world is filled with the haves and have-nots. It is never okay to violate someone’s privacy like this, but I’ve come to a place of forgiveness and letting go. The compassion I was seeking in yoga that morning left me for a while, but it’s working its way back. And, yes, I’m re-writing the damn novel AND backing it up.

P.S. Sorry about the extra cursing this time. If you think it’s bad, you should see the password on my replacement laptop.

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8 thoughts on “Home-Burglary Prevention Tips, or, When A**holes Steal Your Sh*t

  1. Oh, Maria. I’m so sorry. I love that you’re able to channel your anger into what is a hilarious and enjoyable blog post for the rest of us. But I too have been broken into, so I know how it feels. The violation of privacy is like nothing else. And what idiots ask if the door was locked or unlocked? Thankfully nobody asked me that. No matter the answer, there’s an implied blame in the question, especially if the answer is unlocked. How insensitive. And that isn’t really the point. A door being locked or unlocked SHOULDN’T matter; you should be able to keep your shit no matter your security situation, and people need to MTOB (mind their own beeswax) when it comes to that particular detail. I lost my laptop too when my house was broken into. I hadn’t yet begun my novel, but I did lose three years’ worth of some of my best blog entries (that weren’t backed up and were taken offline some months prior). The thing people did when it happened to me that pissed me off was ask if I had an alarm or (upon hearing no) if I was going to get one. I can’t afford an alarm system, so constantly being needled about this was annoying for me, having to state over and over and over and over that I’m TOO POOR to protect my own house. That was maddening.

    Anyway, I’m so glad your kids (and you) WEREN’T home when this happened and that all living parts of your life are safe and accounted for. I mourn with you about the loss of your novel and priceless, irreplaceable wedding stuff. And the closets. Seriously. They did this to me too. Hard to keep a peaceful feeling in the midst of ramshackled closets. I’m getting worked up just thinking about it, so I better quit. Hope you find full peace again soon.

    • Thanks for the empathy, Audra. I’m sorry to say, misery loves company. When I read that the month we were robbed was part of the 5-year high mark for Palo Alto burglaries, I felt better. Just that it wasn’t as personal and targeted as it felt.

      I also googled “recovering from burglary” and found plenty of people online to commiserate with. Sharing our stories is such a big part of process and recovery, no matter what the subject matter.

  2. You’ve managed to make me feel the most uncomfortable mix of emotions since puberty and Ms. Long’s class. Spoiler alert, she was NOT an object of sexual desire. Seriously, I laughed, but felt horrible for doing so.

    One of my neighbors has a different work schedule than me. She’s really good about letting me know if any funny business has happened at my place. Last year, a water line broke and she and her husband were able to turn off the supply line before it did any real damage. I’m always thankful I managed to move next to such nice people. I like to be a hermit, but they have made me realize the importance of community. Asking, were your doors locked? Hmmm. I would think the natural question to ask would be, is there anything I can do to help?

    (The top comment reminded me of a cheap DIY home security system. Rose bushes under the windows. Passive aggressive and attractive…like my last girlfriend.)

  3. I haven’t had my house broken into twice but I’ve had my car stolen twice. Not the same car, different cars. But I did get the first one back. And it was really creepy sitting in the same seat that the creepster car stealer was sitting in just moments before looking at all his creepster car stealing sh*t he left behind. Alright, so it was groceries. Yup, stole my car to go buy some groceries. And it wasn’t creepy, just bread and milk. But STILL. The second time I didn’t get my car back. But that’s okay, cars are replaceable, right? Not replaceable, on the other hand, are my kid’s favorite blanket and stuffed animal. Stealing from babies? LAME.

    I’m sorry bad things happen to you, but glad you have the ability to make me laugh. I’m tempted to wish more bad things on you… but I won’t.

    And if anyone’s wondering, I don’t leave the doors unlocked with the spare keys inside anymore. No more freebies. Try harder.

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