At home in Fort Worth...
Arriving home from work a couple of weeks ago, I turned the key in the front door and found it was unlocked. This was highly unusual, as I knew Sandy was gone and that she is a stickler for locking all the doors and setting the burglar alarm. However, thinking this was one of those rare omissions on her part, I opened the door, only to hear the unmistakable beeping sequence from the burglar alarm indicating that it had been tripped. If I had had my wits about me, I should have gone outside immediately and called the police, for I didn’t know at the time if some unwanted person was still in the house. Obviously, I hadn’t accepted what the alarm was telling me, for I simply walked over to the keypad, entered the code and shut off the urgent beeping. It was when I walked into the den and saw the back door ajar with remnants of the door latch strewn across the floor that I began to realize what had happened.
Stupidly, I still didn’t leave the house, even though the intruders could still have been in another room waiting for me. Instead, I calmly began to look around to see what was missing. I noticed that none of the electronic gear or computers had been taken and that a new pistol in its case was still on my desk in the study. Walking into the master suite, I noticed that the drawers in Sandy’s jewelry case were strewn about the floor, all empty. It was only then that I called 911, wondering why the police had not already arrived after the alarm was tripped. I later learned that, while the alarm system activated the interior siren upon the break-in, the system failed to contact the alarm monitoring center. The company immediately sent out a technician who replaced the controller that had malfunctioned. This revealed another mistake: I had not tested the alarm in a very long time. It was probably because the siren was sounding that the thief (or thieves) went only for the jewelry and didn’t look for other valuables. I’m told a burglar knows that he has about six minutes on average before a police response to the location is likely.
While waiting for the police, I called Sandy, who was en route home herself, and told her what had happened so that she wouldn’t be alarmed to see a police cruiser in front of the house when she arrived. She was mortified, of course, over having our security violated and the loss of jewelry worth many thousands of dollars, almost all of which I had given her on special occasions over the past 36 years. It was not until we began taking an inventory of the pieces that were missing and assessing the replacement value that we realized how imprudent we were for not having nearly enough insurance for this kind of loss.
After moving through several stages of shock, anger and grief, we realized that it was just stuff, after all, and that we were not harmed was what was important. What will never be the same is a sense of security. We now realize how vulnerable most of us are, considering how easy it was for a thief to gain entrance with one kick to the rear door. It was all the more shocking because no one in our neighborhood could recall any trouble of this kind for many years.
We installed a new, stronger door, of course, along with a barrier bar, and we upgraded the security system with an outside siren. We also installed cameras on all sides of the house and at the entrances with a digital interface for the images to be visible from our smart phones. I’m not sure what will be gained from this, other than having the capability of watching a break-in in real time, but maybe it will provide some kind of deterrent and perhaps help in identifying criminals if, God forbid, something like this happens again.
Even as I am writing this, it is difficult to accept that our culture has come to this. Growing up in the fifties in a small town in east Texas, we had no concept of crime. Our doors were never locked, our parents often left the car keys in the ignition when parked, and my friends and I roamed the neighborhoods at will with no fear of any evil befalling us. The answer is fairly simple, however. Considering the degree to which God has been pushed out of our institutions and our lives, it is no surprise that ungodly things take His place. I am very fearful for our children and grandchildren.
I read the blogs of many fulltimers out there who have jettisoned their S&B houses and don’t have to worry about criminal mischief at their residences while they are gone. I envy that freedom, but I’m thinking now that we’re not really safe anywhere these days. I suppose that feeling will lessen over time, but I really miss the days of my youth.