Sometimes a Manic Hobgoblin gets the better of me. I live in a sweet, old house in central Austin. I travel a few times each year. I have too many pets, and love each one more than the next.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
We Were Robbed. It Sucks.
Friday I came home from an audition to find the front door of our 1952 house ajar with a dusty footprint on the door. I nudged the door open to see our TV gone from its usual spot and the open cabinet door revealing the dusty outline where the Xbox 360 normally resided. Before I assess the rest of the mayhem, I quickly check all the pets. One, two, three cats, all staring at me expectantly. One, large, apparently not-at-all-menacing dog still in her crate, unharmed.
I wedge the front door closed by placing my purse on the floor in front of it, because that door is not closing back into the shattered frame. I call 911, and they ask if the robber is still in my house. Hmm... I didn't even look, this being my first home robbery and all. I brandish my pepper-spray and ask the operator to stay on the line as I check. Nope. Just me and the pets now. The 911 operator tells me to call the non-emergency number, 311. Um, as Kate D. likes to say, that number is for mattresses in the road. I've been robbed! I accept that my stuff being taken, and rifled through and tossed about, is not a true police emergency. I call 311. A different nice operator stays on the line with me as I walk through the house surveying the mess, debris, damage and chaos. The nice operator gives me a case number and says she'll send a crime unit officer over to photograph the shoe print on the front door and dust for other prints.
Then I call Chad and give my standard emergency assessment speech preamble, "I'm safe and the pets are all safe, but..." followed by the non-standard, "we've been robbed. The front door was kicked in, and I can't get it closed now, and I'm a little scared to be in here alone right now." Sweet Chad makes the two-mile commute home in record time, hugs me, hugs the pets, and we start with the phone calls: the insurance company, several handyman services to see who can make it out the soonest to repair the door frame, the 311 police line again to report more stuff missing. We wait for the crime scene unit police officer to show up. She photographs the scene, takes the foot print, tells me she likes the rugs and paint colors in our house. A neighbor runs over and gives the officer the license plate number and description of two suspicious characters who may, or may not, be the robbers.
Finally, Chad and I are left to vacuum and put things away. Every drawer and cabinet (except for the locked file cabinet -- thank God I locked the 200-pound file cabinet!) has been opened and searched. Eww. Strangers touched our stuff.
I am fascinated by the random things taken such as cheap, fake gold jewelry. Yet my jewelry box sat totally intact. My six-year-old iPod which has my full name engraved on the back is gone with its power cord. My limping-along, three-year-old laptop, with its chipped plastic casing, which has four different passwords to access files or even to use the computer at all, is gone along with its power cord. (Thank God I obsessively back up the computer every ten days to an external hard drive, which was hidden and locked up tight.) The serial numbers for all the stolen electronics are on the police stolen merchandise lists now. Not that I have any hope of ever recovering any of it.
My advice to all of you reading this: get a reinforced door frame or door jamb. You can have a steel door (which we do) with three different locks on it (which we do), but if your door frame is old wood (guilty), it can easily be kicked in. Our neighbors who had their door kicked in a few years ago also advocate a security storm door with shatterproof glass-like material and three bolts that jut into the wall when locked.
Yeah, I'll be adding two security storm doors to my birthday wish list.