Preface: My world was turned upside down last year when my home was burglarized. I don’t mind talking about it, except that most people just don’t get it. Or they make ignorant comments like, “Oh, so I should come to your house in the middle of the night huh?” Do not joke about coming into my home uninvited because I assure you I am ready now, and it will not end well for whoever is coming through the glass. So in an attempt to be understood, here’s what happened.
I woke up around 6:30am. Since I had just moved in four days before, we were still living between two bedrooms. We slept in the bedroom upstairs to the right, but all our clothes and belongings were upstairs to the left. I walked past the stairs and the bathroom, and as I turned on the light to the storage bedroom, I was instantly confused to see most of our dresser drawers were open. Some clothes were rummaged through, but it wasn’t a total mess. I chose to ignore my first instinct and assumed that Seth was a slob. He had come to bed around 4:00am, waiting for his energy drink to wear off. We had changed the furniture and layout of the house so much in the few days I had lived there, that I thought he must’ve been exhausted and confused about where his clothes were. So, I gathered what I needed for a shower, closed the dresser drawers, and took a quick shower.
I got dressed and went downstairs to start boiling some eggs for breakfast. I turned right into the first-floor hallway and noticed that downstairs was mostly dark except for the stove top light in the kitchen and a small table lamp in the living room. I entered the kitchen to find the pantry door, the refrigerator, and several kitchen cabinets were wide open. I think I may have even laughed out loud at this point thinking that Seth left the entire house a mess when he came to sleep just a few hours before. I closed everything, started boiling some eggs, and began to go back upstairs to finish getting ready for work. When I turned in the hallway to go towards the stairs, I noticed that the back door was unlocked.
I froze. I adjusted my body in the hallway, so my back was up against the wall and I faced the dark bathroom in front of me and both sides of the hallway leading to the back yard and the front door. Someone had been in our house. Someone may still be in our house. As I glanced toward the front door, I realized my purse was missing from the couch. When I looked towards the back door, one of my teaching bags from the living room was turned upside down in the floor. When I looked straight ahead into the pitch-black bathroom, I was paralyzed with fear that the intruder was hiding inside. I’m not sure how long I stood in the hallway trying to analyze what had happened and what was going to happen. It felt like an eternity before I could make myself move. I wanted to scream and wake Seth up, but I was afraid that if someone was still in the house, it would expose me even more. I took a deep breath and ran up the stairs as fast as I could, pulling myself up with the handrail.
I jumped in the bed, making sure I was still facing the door in case someone was following behind me. I shook Seth awake and tried to calmly say, “Honey, did you go in the backyard for any reason before you came to bed?” He groggily said no. “I think someone has been in the house. The back door is unlocked and lots of things were messed up, but I just thought it was you.” Seth jumped up within seconds and asked if I had cleared the house. “Of course not! I ran up here to wake you as soon as I fully realized what happened.” We started rummaging around the room for something we could use as a weapon. Seth grabbed an empty B.B. pistol, and I think I grabbed some scissors. Room by room, we went together with him leading the way and checking every nook and cranny of the second floor; we were clear. As we moved down the stairs, we resembled police officers on television. We were pressed up against the wall and quickly peeking around the corner to try and stay hidden.
Seth turned left toward the back door to clear the back bedroom. He turned on the light and yelled, “He came in through this room. The window is wide open, but I think he’s gone.” We quickly moved through the rest of the first floor- the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, and all the closets; and we were still clear. I think I subconsciously wanted to be away from any doors or windows because we ended up in the kitchen again trying to figure out what to do next. I called 911, but it was a very difficult conversation. I hadn’t gathered my thoughts; saying out loud that someone broke into our home while we were asleep caused me to freak out even more. I hardly knew the new address since I had just moved in. And we had no idea what had been taken. The 911 operator told us to gather our thoughts and a list of what we were missing and that an officer was on the way.
We did another run through of the house and discovered that my purse and my laptop from the living room, Seth’s phone from the storage bedroom, Seth’s checkbook and an unopened bag of Cheetos from the kitchen were missing. Unfortunately, my purse included my keys, my spare car key, my wallet, my social security card (because I planned to change my name that very day), and my USB drive that had my entire work life and book proposal on it. Seth decided to charge his phone in the storage bedroom because, “who needs an alarm clock when you have a wife now.” It took us a few days to realize the checkbook was missing when Seth realized his bank account was overdrawn. And I can only assume that the intruder was high and needed the Cheetos for a snack.
The next few hours included us calling into work, breaking the news to my parents, changing all the locks, calling various banks to cancel my accounts, and setting up identity theft alerts, etc. My car keys were stolen, so we couldn’t use my car. It had to be towed and re-keyed for a pretty penny that day. Seth had his car keys but no car because it was in the shop for maintenance. My parents, as always, came to the rescue. They brought both of their cars so we wouldn’t be stranded at the house. Mom also brought an old iPhone for Seth to use since his was taken. Dad checked out the safety of the rest of the house. The intruder came in through an unlocked window in the first-floor bedroom. Literally the same day that Seth and I got married, his last roommate moved out of that particular bedroom. What moron doesn’t lock their windows in the Highlands is beyond me. But then we discovered that nearly every window in the entire house was unlocked. Men are just incredibly different than women. So note to anyone who moves into a new home- don’t assume that the windows are locked.
Regardless of the difficulties of that day and the days that followed, Seth and I were safe. I can’t remember if our bedroom door was locked that night, and it is difficult to stop the mental what-if game, but we were unharmed. The responding police officer also found my USB drive in the backyard. It was cracked from being stepped on, but I was able to recover all my work. These positive thoughts were fleeting though, and soon paranoia crept in. I felt like our house was watched and targeted. Two young strong guys moved out the same week a young woman moved in; the timing seemed crazy. I had business cards with my blog information in my purse when it was stolen. I was scared that the intruder would try to learn more about me, so I completely deleted my blog. Seth built a furniture blockade in front of the window in that back bedroom and in front of the back door. We pushed the sofa in front of the front door before we went to sleep every night. We put shot glasses in the windows, so we could hear it break if someone managed to get in. I asked Seth to clear every inch of the house each time we came home and every morning when we woke up. I even convinced my parents to change the locks at their house because my stolen ID had their address, and my key to their home was taken too. I cried multiple times a day in fear that he would come back. I laid awake many nights listening for him to come back. Everyone I spoke to assured me that burglars never come back.
Until two weeks later on a Wednesday afternoon, they (notice the plural), came back.