Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thieves Steal More Than Stuff

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.


  1. Terrible that your home and sense of security has been violated. I agree with your thoughts in the last paragraph. Such a shame, and scary for the future.

    On a positive note, your writing is topnotch! Very well written, Mike. Thank you. Sue

  2. Sorry to hear about your break in, but glad you and Sandy are safe. There have been many home invasions here in Arizona recently and that is really scary to think about!

  3. I am sorry for the loss of your security and belongings, yet I too am glad that neither you nor your wife were harmed. Thank you for sharing candidly how this break in has affected you. I feel that your blog today is what I needed to read in other to get me moving on having a security system installed in our home. Our son has been urging us to do this for a while now, and he is a concealed carrier, yet we haven't moved forward on what we know we need to do. Again, thank you. Yes, sin is so rampant that I fear things will only continue to get worse.

  4. Sorry to hear about the break in:( It is tough to get over. I had two break ins while living in Oklahoma city many years ago. They came back a week after the first break-in, which I did interrupt by coming home. They finally caught them and I got some of the stuff back. It took awhile to get over it, but as you have noted , it is just stuff.

  5. I am sure your feelings are hurt more than your pride. if we we are violated by intentional property crimes (breakins, vandalism, ID theft, financial corruption) we flare with anger, frustration, loss, at the perpetrators. If personally violated by being assaulted, intimidated by someone, suffering the consequences of someone else's indifferences to others (like DUI damages), healthcare incompetence or failure of other personal services, we instinctively curl up inside to protect and heal.

    It is sad you have been stripped of items but fortunate that you have suffered no personal loss in this. It is sometimes helpful to consciously focus on each of these aspects each time you feel that "twang" of loss. It helps to keep one's emotions pegged to the important stuff rather than letting it run amok among whatever ruins you see.

    It sounds like you are successfully dealing with this event, intellectually. Maybe this little NLP tip will help corral the emotional tiger that has been poked.

    Picture the images in your mind of what you first saw. Mentally put them up on a huge theatre screen one at a time then notice in the lower right corner a very small picture of some of the good experiences those lost things remind you of.

    Now, gradually increase the size of the smaller picture while shrinking the one you saw until the good memories picture fills the whole screen and the uncomfortable one is shrunk down to just a few pixels in the lower left corner of the big screen.

    Do this with any image from your mind that still "stings" when you think of it. This process will help separate the intellectual losses from the true emotional ones and it should help strengthen your embrace of what you have over what you "feel" you have lost.

    Also, take time to watch sunsets. They are the true benchmarks of the progress we make in our daily lives and strengthen our confidence that tomorrow will come as a new day.

    At 36 years, there is no doubt you already have a clear view of your love for one another... and that always holds the promise of a bright new day.

  6. butterbean carpenterApril 28, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Howdy Sandy & Mike,
    Well, y'all do live in the POISONPLEX, where nobody but honest people work; the rest break into the working peoples houses!!! I feel your rage and pain, but out here in the Wild West they're breaking into houses in the outback, also... In Coleman county alone this last month there were 16 daytime burglaries, which is really scary, as many out here are elderly and vulnerable, like us!!! Sure we have guns and WILL USE THEM, but you don't know when they slip up on you... We have a good alarm system, when he's AWAKE !!!!
    Sure do hope they don't return, but IF they made a good haul, like the Terminator, "THEY'LL BE BACK!!!".....
    Sounds like you've done all you can to protect yourselves, except GET THE PHANNIE ON THE ROAD FULLTIME!!!

  7. so very sorry to hear about the are the second one this week that I have heard about..geesh! what is this country coming to? take care..sure hope that the insurance will cover some of the items that were taken!

  8. We are so sorry this has happened. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

  9. So sorry to hear of your break-in. I understand the feeling of being violated. We have only been burgled once and that was only in our garage but it was bad enough. I can only imagine how devastating your loss must be. But like others have said, at least you were neither one hurt.

  10. Sorry about your loss of your comfort zone. We take so much forgranted, like our safety. It concerns me that they knew where to go for the jewelry.

  11. I'm sorry you were burglarized, but at least no one was home and injured or killed.

  12. Not only did you get broken into, but you've earned yourself some spam as well.
    It's been a number of years now, but we too were broken into, and a number of things were taken. There was insurance of course, but some sentimental items can never be truly replaced.
    I'm thinking the only thing anyone would get these days is this laptop. Being a pretty good cabinet maker, anything of value is so well hidden, even our kids don't know where everything is. Leaving jewellery in drawers is easy peasy for a thief. First place they look.
    I think I'd drop that "alarm service" like a hot potato. Didn't do a damned bit of good.
    Take care.


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