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