When Your Safe Place Doesn’t Feel Safe

Six years, five months, three days, and 18 hours, I met my husband for the first time on the driveway of his beautiful home.

Four years, one month, two days and 2 hours, I moved into his beautiful home and I loved our quiet neighborhood.

Two years, four months, two days, and 8 hours, I found joy in the solitude of my new telecommuting job. A job I can do from the comforts of my office nestled inside my beloved home in my quiet neighborhood.

1 day, 23 hours, and 2 minutes, I lose my peace. I lose my comfort. I lose my home to a shattering invasion.

Thank God, I wasn’t at home.

But just barely…

See, my husband and I had left the house together at 730 am. We took the girls to school and then he took me to a Doctor’s appointment at 8am. I had crippling abdominal pain all weekend and my doctor sent me to have an ultrasound on my abdomen to see if they could find the cause. The ultrasound hurt like HECK. The kind assistance helpfully pointed out my “sore” spot based on my grimacing face. So helpful, but whatever it takes to learn (and stop) the painful episodes.

After the torture, we stopped for gas, and to pick up my husband’s dry cleaning. Then a quick stop for a breakfast sandwich through a quick drive-in.

All of these things taken care of within three miles from our home, and all of it done pretty close to the start of my shift (9am). We only ran about 15 mins late. I had no idea how long the ultrasound would last, so I was feeling pretty good about our timing.

We pull up to our house and the first thing we see is a car in our neighbor’s driveway. Our neighbor that moved out about a month ago. We did know from the owner the house would be occupied next week, and in fact, met our new neighbors Sunday afternoon. They were not moving from Georgia until next week. And they did not drive a car with Texas plates that looked like that.

I didn’t question it. Why would I? It’s just a car in the drive-way. Maybe a cleaning person? Who knows? But my husband did not like it. He insisted it didn’t belong. And he walked to the end of the driveway and took a photo of the car.

© Jason Hardy

My hands were full and I waited for him to unlock our door. He walked back over and unlocked the door, but didn’t miss a beat. He went back to the neighbor’s house as he insisted something wasn’t right.

I pause a moment to look at the car again. I still don’t see anything menacing. I open our front door and walk into the foyer. It is that moment. The moment I realize the car has everything to do with us and nothing to do with our empty neighbor’s house. I see my iMac on the dining room window sill. It is the only thing that registers from the entire scene. I don’t see the glass. I don’t see a burglary in progress. Just that. My iMac in a place I did not leave it.

I slowly back out of the house. I am frantically looking for Jason who has his phone and is clear across the neighbor’s yard. I motion for him to COME HERE. He says, “I think I hear someone walking over here.” I shake my head and make crazy jumping head motions to get him to COME HERE. He does. And as soon as we are side by side walking into our house. The mysterious car peels out from next door.

We watch where it goes and which way it turns.

I didn’t want to enter our house at that point. I knew what I would find. Precious things taken. Lost forever. And for what? Because someone decided to be a professional criminal, instead of a salesman? It’s horrifying feeling to be violated. I thought of all the things in easy reach of eager hands. My camera bag left at the dining room table. My other camera bag left on the couch. Most likely those are taken my cameras! I felt stones churn in my belly as we slowly surveyed the damage in the kitchen.

Glass everywhere.

Piece of glass on our couch.
Piece of glass on our couch.

The mess is devastating.

© 2014 Angelia's Photography

We immediately see how they gained access as both the front and back door are still locked.

© 2014 Angelia's Photography

They threw a fireplace log through our beautiful window.

At this point, I am wondering where my kitty is. There is no sign of her…and all this glass! Is she cut? Is she bleeding somewhere? My heart hurts. I am in shock. That is when Jason says to get out of the house. We are a priority one and the police are on their way.

We wait while they investigate the house and check for anyone still inside. My old black lab is put outside to keep her off the glass. She was the only dog not locked in a crate. She is twelve-years-old. I doubt the poor girl had the strength to stand up to them. Those old bones don’t move so quick and I am very grateful they didn’t hurt her.

We answer a billion questions about where things were and what they might have touched.
© 2014 Angelia's Photography
Both iMacs were moved from the office. Those were definitely handled. The police took lots of time to dust for prints on them and the window glass. No blood was found. I don’t know how.
© 2014 Angelia's Photography

Eventually, they gathered up all the evidence they could (and the vehicle’s tag number from my husband’s picture!).

They left us to clean-up the astounding amount of glass.

© 2014 Angelia's Photography
Our biggest loss, we discovered in our bedroom. They took my husband’s jewelry box, dumping out all the credit cards and passport, but taking all his Marine coins and watches.
© 2014 Angelia's Photography
They dumped our nightstand drawers on the bed and dug out all my husband’s empty gun boxes. Yes, empty! All his guns locked in the gun safe.

The other photo is the place my jewelry box used to be. Yeah. They got it too. Along with every piece of jewelry my deceased step-father ever gave me. I doubt they get much for trinkets I received in a gold box at Christmastime. Their monetary value greatly diminished, but their sentimental value is crushing. I try to tell myself they are just things: my Mom’s charm bracelet, her baby ring, and baby bracelet. But it is hard. None of it is replaceable.

These thieves took more than my valuables. They took a chunk of my heart. They took my peace and they took my safety. I don’t know that I will ever heal from the intrusion.

I found my baby kitty under Molly’s bed. Her eyes as big as saucers and she ran to me as soon as I called her. She looked so scared, but completely free of any cuts.

I found BOTH camera bags. One was still at the kitchen table, but it was covered by my husband’s shirt. One was in a pink bag on the couch that said Somebody special calls me Grammy. Apparently, a pink Grandma bag didn’t look valuable to them.

We almost walked in on this burglary in progress (or did). I could have (should have) been home when it happened. The person waiting in the car might have used a gun if Jason hadn’t moved out of the driveway. None of these things escape my conscience.

Last night, we installed an alarm system. An interactive high-tech alarm system. It has a glass break sensor. If the window ever breaks again, it will set the alarm off. There is a keypad in the office AND the bedroom. No matter which part of the house I go, I have the security of a panic button.

I am still broken by the things we lost and relieved over the things we didn’t. I am still a little jumpy at home alone. But the new security system helps.

Tuesday morning at 9:15 AM, I discovered how easily a robber can wreck your safety, and your quiet neighborhood. I discovered I wasn’t exempt from clear and present danger that walks in our world today. Maybe learning these things will keep my attention on the surroundings. To question and not accept. And to guard valuables in heavy lock boxes and places they wouldn’t look.

Most of all, I hope this story helps save someone else from the same distress. Check your security. Check where your valuables are. And more than anything, be aware of something out-of-place in your neighborhood.

This is the time of year for robberies. Christmas is coming…

Be safe, friends.

57 thoughts on “When Your Safe Place Doesn’t Feel Safe

  1. So so glad that you were not home! I had a similar experience two years ago. I was not only scared thinking about what if my wife and kids were home but I was angry. To invade someone’s home in hopes of taking what others have worked gard to earn makes me dream with anger. This may not be politically correct thing to say but I have no issues with people that enter someone’s home in hopes of robbing them getting something else that sends them to the hospital if not worse. I say this because my father was home when this happens to him and he didn’t just lose some valuables. He lost his life. I am so sorry that this happened to you and I hope like hell they catch these bas#*#&s!!! I only hope that one day your home will feel like home again. A safe sanctuary for you and your family. Again I am happy that you guys wee not home and that could be a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marcus, I am so so sorry to hear about your Dad. How horrible and sad! My heart goes out to you. It could have been so much worse for us. I am thankful for that. And when the girls are not here. I carry a gun with me from room to room. I am NOT taking any chances. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I can’t imagine how you must have felt and how you must be feeling still. I am “liking” this post, not because of what you went through, but because you had the courage and strength to share your story. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So scary, glad you weren’t at home, but a good thing you came when you did to prohibit more items stolen. Jason was smart to take a picture of that car…hope it leads the police right to the criminals.
    It takes a long time to feel safe after you’ve been violated.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my gosh!!! I am so very sorry!! I remember how mad and violated I felt when someone came and took a bike that we had locked up off of our patio. That is miniscule compared to what you and Jason are having to go through. I’m so glad that God had a plan to keep you out of the house and to bring you back at the right time before more may have been lost. I really hope that the picture Jason took helps lead the police to these people and they are caught and are hopefully able to lead you to your precious things that they took. Ultimately I’m glad that you both and all the furry family is ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The ‘like’ is for the strength you’ve shown. I am so utterly sorry you had to go through this and so utterly relieved that you are all safe. I just don’t know what to say. Me! Right? Speechless! Ugh! I hope the ultrasound is the way to solving your physical pain. The mental kind, well, I pray that in time the evil of this will lessen in your brain and you can relax in the comfort your your restored home. Be well, Angelia. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Dr office called when the police were still collecting evidence. I have gall stones and will most likely need my gall bladder removed. Eeek. Seeing a surgeon on Tuesday to find out more.
      Thanks, dear! I think you said just the right thing. 🙂

      Like

  6. I am so crushed to read this! It is so terribly sad. I hope you heal with time and I’m sorry about your losses. Still, it’s great to know that you can write this because you are safe! And your family, pets included! Is ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this terrible ordeal, Angelia. All you can be thankful for is that no-one was hurt, but nevertheless, the trauma is really awful. I know, because we’ve also been victims of home invaders in South Africa; not once, but four times. We came here to the US to hopefully escape the high levels of crime which they have there. I know the heartbreaking feeling of losing items of sentimental value and family heirlooms. You are bound to feel very unsettled for quite a while, but thankfully, time will heal. Sending hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So sorry this happened. I’ll be praying for all of you to someday feel safe in your home again. I feel so bad about this happening to such a wonderful family. God bless my friends. Love you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m so sorry to hear your news… the same thing happened to us 3 years ago and it’s just plain awful. Yes things are just things but it’s hard all the same and the feeling of someone being in your home is a tough one to shake. Take care…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa! You know the craziest thing about the whole thing is that Jason told me he had a dream the night before that we got robbed. I kid you not! That is why he was so paranoid about that car. Isn’t that crazy?!

      Like

      1. Sometimes dreams really help. Glad he took that seriously. I am so sorry you lost all your keepsake memories. I know I will be upset too but most importantly is that you guys are ok. I hope the cops are able to catch the bad guys with the photo evidence! Also, I would ask friends and relatives if they know what your stuff look like to check local pawn shops to see if the bad guys try to get rid of stuff there. Also, monitor ebay. Good luck!

        Like

  10. I liked your post because I understand. Secondly how is your pain? Health is most important. Finally, the exact same thing happened to my mothers house. It sounds like kids as they usually vandalize and don’t take much, only the obvious things like guns and jewelry, a professional will slip in and out virtually undedicated. My mothers house was completely vandalized ( 11 windows and mirrors and lights shattered) but she had few things of value so they directed the loss of theft worthy items to anger. Luckily they were eventually caught through fingerprints and found to have burglarized over 25 homes in her rural area. At least you have a license plate. I hope justice is served. It is mentally invasive and I am sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope justice is served too! The car tag came back to a known career criminal. We think they broke the window because we had security signs and those would have triggered on an open door or window (if it was hooked up). They threw a small rock through the window first. I believe to test for motion sensors or glass break. So, in reality, they DID know how to enter the house (assuming) we had the security on our sign yards. And apparently, jewelry and guns are quick sales. Breaking everything *does* sound like kids. How horrid! Glad they were caught!

      Oh, and thanks for asking about me! My pain is manageable. I see a surgeon on Tuesday. It looks like gall stones. 😦

      Like

    1. Right! My window was the best part of the house. We have a such a pretty view of a meadow and not many houses. You’d think they would worry about the sound. With our new security system, I am feeling much more secure.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I hate that this happened to you or anyone else for that matter. These type of people have no feelings and don’t think about yours. Bastards.
    You,Jason and your pets are in my prayers everyday to help ease what you must be going through.
    If we bloggers can do anything, anything…let us know.
    We all love you guys. Jim H.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hopefully the picture your husband took of the car will help catch the people responsible, it’s a shame that anyone would stoop to causing this type of damage both physically and mentally while robbing you of not only monetary values but irreplaceable memories.

    I am sorry you had to suffer through this but am gland none of you were home and the animals that were are safe and sound.

    Like

  13. Angelia, I thank god that you were not home and that you, your husband and animals are safe. OMG…I cannot believe these photographs and how much damage they did in such short period of time. And what really angers me about this is that it’s not only about the things they stole, but they also stole your sense of security. And yes, it’s that horrible feeling of being violated.

    I hope these people are caught and justice is served. And kudos to your husband for taking that car photo.

    Sending you a big huge of love, my friend…

    (((((((((((((( You )))))))))))))))

    X

    Like

  14. Oh I’m so sorry to hear about this Angelia, breaks my heart too! It’s difficult to “let go” of those valuables. I’m glad you are safe and I sincerely hope nothing of this sort happens to you ever again!

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  15. Oh, I am so sorry, Honey. I know they are “just things” and safety of you, your family (including your animals) is paramount, but it still hurts. My eyes were full of tears and my lip trembled as I read this. I am so sorry.

    People are really awful because as you mention, the things they took don’t really have any monetary value . . . it is sentimental.

    I am sending you love, light, and hugs. I am so sorry. I understand all that was taken from you.

    Like

  16. Sorry to hear this, Angelia. We have an alarm system, and it definitely allows some peace of mind. Your experience has me thinking about that. We had a sensor go bad, and somehow, since the tech worked on the system, one of our features doesn’t work properly. Maybe we should get that taken care of. So thankful you are all ok, including the pets.

    Like

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