17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On Being Burglarized

Having your home broken into sucks. Big time. Recovering from the shock of the "valuables" that were taken (we really don't have that much of value) has been relatively easy. Recovering from the emotional trauma of our home and privacy being invaded has been another matter altogether.

I have never been overly paranoid or a suspicious person. I have actually worked really hard to have a healthy and positive view of the world that I live in. But now, that is all shattered to pieces. I find myself laying in bed at night scared that someone will come into the house to take all the things they left behind. I don't recognize the girl that is setting up booby traps around the house and hiding my new computer in the hamper before leaving the house. I find myself looking at all the people in my neighborhood as possible suspects. I hate it. I have always loved my neighborhood, but now I am so relieved to be moving in two weeks. I am so angry to be leaving on this sour note. I am so angry at the people who did this to me. And while I know it wasn't a personal attack, it still feels nothing but personal.

How do I pick up the pieces? How do I regain my feeling of safety? I don't want this to affect the way I live, act and view the world. How can I make it happen?

The one thing that I have tried to do so far is count my blessings. It could have been so much worse. You don't have to read through the long list, but any advice you have for me as I work through the emotional trauma would be appreciated. Oh, and any advice to help our once partialy neurotic, but now completely neurotic dog get over her trauma of getting maced in her own backyard would also help.

Note: The person or persons that were in my home will from now on be referred to as punks (doesn't seem quite so scary as burglars). And if the punks are reading this right now because you clicked on the bookmark labeled "Tales" on my computer---YOU SUCK. And don't bother coming back for my new laptop because I will no longer be hiding it in the hamper.

-I am thankful the punks were not still in my house when I returned home.
-I am thankful I did not get the kids out of the car before going into the house so they didn't see how the punks had trashed it.
-I am thankful for my sweet neighbor who called the police and scooped up my children for the entire afternoon so they missed the police car at our house and mom completely losing it.
-i am thankful for my sister and who drove to my house on a moments notice and picked up my girls. And for my brother-in-law and niece who helped my sister give them a safe and fun place to stay for the night while DH and I were able to clean up and I was able to break down a few more times.
-i am thankful that my daughters don't seem to be suffering any ill effects from the event. The oldest knows someone came into the house and took things that did not belong to them but between the sweet talk that I know my sister had with her about why someone would take something that didn't belong to them and the duck feeding, horseback riding and guinea pig adventures she took them on, I think Princess will think of this past weekend as a happy time.
-I am thankful the punks sprayed my dog with mace instead of oven cleaner (I heard that sometime punks will spray dogs with oven cleaner which kills them). Although if they had just bent down and petted her, she would have happily opened the back door for them if she could.
-I am thankful the punks didn't take my video camera which still had the girl's birthday video inside of it because those are the things that are hard to replace.
-I am thankful the punks didn't take my backup hard drive because I was able to replace everything on my computer up until a month and a half ago (including all my photos). It could have been so much worse.
-I am thankful that while the punks trashed the place, they didn't destroy the place. Nothing was broken or vandalized - just dumped, and sifted through.
-I am thankful for our friends who were overly generous in offering us their car for the next two weeks (as our spare keys were also taken) so our cars will be safe until we move.
-I am thankful to all those people in our neighborhood who have stopped by expressing their concern and shock. Their kind words have helped to start building back something that was lost.
-I am thankful that my husband knew that immediately getting a new computer would help ease the pain. He was right - it has taken away some of the initial sting :).
-i am thankful for all the caring phonecalls from my friends offering sympathy, invitations to stay in their homes and offers to fly down to help me clean up (and to give me hugs).
-I am thankful that things are just things and we are so blessed to have all that we have.
-I am thankful we are all safe, healthy, and for the most part, happy.


  • I'm so sorry this happened to you. I remember the feeling of being violated when my wallet was stolen right from our place of lodging while on vacation, and that involved no trashing of the place, just missing stuff.

    My only real thought will be that peace will have to come spiritually.

    I also think it's a nice temporal benefit to be moving, to start off fresh somewhere. Best to you!
    posted by Blogger M&M at 8/28/2007 10:26:00 AM  

  • I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you! I think you have a really healthy attitude about the whole thing. We were robbed when I was about 10. It was one of those guys that comes around the neighborhood trying to sell this "amazing" cleaner. He would ask to come inside to clean the carpet/shower/whatever and while he was "cleaning" he was looking around at what he wanted to steal, entrances, dogs, etc. We didn't let him in but others in our neighborhood did. He came back a couple of days later, went into our backyard, hit out Boston Terrier with a metal rake in the head (he was ok, but always had a scar after that), climbed through the kitchen window, and went through my mom's bedroom. He didn't trash the place like the punks did, but things were moved, thrown on the floor, rummaged through, etc. My mom was lucky too because she came in about 15 minutes after he left (police estimate) while she was on her lunch hour. Then the police came and dusted for fingerprints on everything which left that stuff all over everything. He robbed 5 houses in our neighborhood that day and was caught later that afternoon. He was wearing one of my mom's necklaces and that is how they were able to arrest him because he had thrown everything else in bushes as he ran from the cops. I remember not being too affected by it as a kid. It was scary and felt weird knowing that someone I didn't know had come through all the rooms in the house. My mom had special locks installed on all the windows so that they were not as easy to open when closed. She had a neighborhood watch police officer come to the house to give a talk to the neighbors about things they could do to prevent this in the future. She also had a Brinks alarm system installed in the house. The alarm especially helped us all feel more secure. I know they are probably very easy to disarm, but just knowing it's there helped us feel safer.

    A few years ago we had a really horrible neighbor that rented a house behind ours. He would send threatening letters to us (including my 2 year old dd) about how something might happen to our dog if we didn't keep it quiet. Our dog wasn't that noisy, this guy was just really weird. He then started videotaping us. He even started breaking into some neighbors backyards. He was too afraid of our Rottweiler to come in our backyard, thank goodness. He videotaped us celebrating Christmas through the windows. I never had to confront him face to face. He was always caught by a neighbor or another family member. That was a horrible feeling because I felt like I was always being watched. I never wanted to open my blinds in the front of my house because I was worried he might be taping me later that day. Some of the things that helped during that time were having the police patrol twice a day. We had a front window that was tinted installed, so unless you are really close you can't see inside very well during the day. You could still see inside at night though when the lights were on. We put in a surveilance camera (our neighbor lent us one from his work) that taped at night to "catch" him if tried anything funny. It helped to know that the neighbors all knew what he was doing and would look after our house.

    I can't offer any more advice than that, but it does get easier. I can understand the fear that you are feeling and it's a horrible feeling. I think keeping a positive attitude like you are doing will help, it just is hard in the beginning. Hopefully the punks will be caught soon and I'm glad you are moving to a new home in a couple of weeks.
    posted by Anonymous melanie at 8/28/2007 10:34:00 AM  

  • Well, you can always consider some kind of alarm system for the new place. That might alleviate some of the anxiety. Biff might be able to hook you up.

    Other then that, I don't know. The three houses we grew up in TO I think all got burglarized. One of them, the punks had gotten into my shell collection I had acquired since I was in elementary school and had stomped and broken all of my shells. It was so sad. I just couldn't understand why anyone would do that.

    But time heals.. and now I find myself leaving my front door unlocked. a lot. Your experience has reminded me of the things I should do to be prepared - home owners insurance, install pet door, keep door locked, make sure computer stuff is backed up regularly.

    Like you said, things are just things - I'm glad things weren't as bad as they could have been, but POOR SUGAR. I hope that in time you can recover from the feelings of invasion and privacy and anxiety.

    It was definitely fun hanging out with Princess and Pumpkin - we had a lot of adventures! I hope they had a good time.
    posted by Blogger tamrobot at 8/28/2007 11:14:00 AM  

  • Wow Carrie- I'm so sorry. Makes me want to be more careful about our own home. Poor dog.

    Hooray for the silver lining of a move soon. And hooray for good neighbors and loving family.
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 8/28/2007 11:26:00 AM  

  • Sorry to hear that this happened to you. The invasion of your private space is the worst. We haven't had any serious thefts- a wallet, a bike, some electronics, but no one trashing the place. That would tick me off, I hate to clean up my own messes. I don't know if it the same with you, but, I have a phobia about locked doors, especially my own door. I just can't stand to come to my own home and not be able to just walk in. I attribute it to the fact that our home was never locked when we were growing up. I think this was because there were so many of us coming and going that it just wasn't practical. So I never lock my front door except when we go on vacations. DH locks it at night when he goes to bed... but only the front door. I also like knowing that if a friend or family member needs to get into my house in an emergency, then can always find a way - which has happened and I like it. My friends think I'm nuts - but that is just how I like to live. I have come home to find a person in my house. I had met the stranger earlier in the day. He was looking for work. I told him I had some things he could do for me, but I needed him to come back later. Apparently, when he came back to the house, the front door was cracked open so he went inside. I yelled at him a bit and told him that I would not be hiring him to work. He left and I never saw him again. I know there are a lot of things that I could and maybe should do to protect my home and my belongings, but those things would make me feel so uncomfortable and paranoid, its not worth it to me. I would rather risk an occasional loss than turn my home into a fortress. My DH has this saying that he repeats whenever we have had something stolen - "they probably needed it more than we did". I don't know that that is true, but that attitude helps keep the bitterness away.

    Carrie, bottom line, I think we grew up in an atmosphere of trust and security even with our doors unlocked. Our home was always a welcoming place to our family and to everyone else that entered in. If you let these punks make you change the way you feel about your neighbors, people on the street, and even the punks that are out there, then they have taken something from you that is much more valuable than a computer or an ipod.

    I know it will take some time, but you are on the right track by listing all the positives. Give God credit for those, he was watching out for you and will continue do so.

    I love you.
    posted by Anonymous Kathi at 8/28/2007 12:17:00 PM  

  • Gag. What a crappy, crappy thing. It happened to our next door neighbors once, and their dog went nuts too. (The cops even told them they might come back after a few months when they had replaced everything.)

    Ok, so glad you're moving.

    Your dog - I think just taking her for LOTS and LOTS of long walks, and giving her a new yard will help. You might want to call a trainer in your new place if she gets too neurotic.

    Time. I think that's all that will help. Time and prayer. Good luck. I will add you to my prayers.
    posted by Anonymous the wiz at 8/28/2007 12:33:00 PM  

  • Carrie - SO SORRY you had to go through this. I am grateful, too, that your family was able to help you out with the girls. If there is ANYTHING you need please let us know. I would gladly hang out with your girls anytime if you need to get some things done before the move.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/28/2007 01:31:00 PM  

  • WHAT>?!?!?!??!?!?!

    Oh. my. heck. I am so very sorry! I wish we were there to help out. If you want a system like Tam mentioned in your new place, just let Brandon know. I know having a security system has brought me tons of peace. Just having the sign in the yard tends to be a deterrent to would-be burglars.

    I'm just so sad we didn't know! Do you need anything?
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 8/28/2007 03:09:00 PM  

  • GRRRR. Stupid punks.

    I just hate that someone as loving and generous and helping as you has to go through this pain and feel doubts about your natural view of life and those around you. I think you're on the right track to focus on the positive, and it is indeed a great thing that you are moving soon. Let that be a new beginning, and try to leave some of the pain and phobia behind in the old place, if you can.

    I love you!
    posted by Blogger marian at 8/28/2007 03:21:00 PM  

  • I was so sick over this when you called - I HATE that this happened to you. Especially YOU, someone who has such a positive, healthy outlook on your surroundings, wherever you are planted (this has always been a good example to me, Queen of Paranoia).

    I know that you don't recognize this new crazy woman who hides the laptop in hamper, jams broomsticks in the doorframes and can't go to sleep until you are sufficiently physically exhausted - it's OK - this crazy woman needs an outlet right now. It's part of the process of moving through such an invasion of your privacy/space.

    We've already talked about this, but I am a HUGE fan of the alarm system. When our jeep was vandalized (and stuff stolen) right in our driveway I called Brinks and did the works on our little. Will my security system 100% prevent someone one burglarazing my home? Of course not. But it will certainly make them think twice when the alarms go off. Chances are, they will leave and find an easier house to rob...and that's all I want. It has brought me a lot of peace of mind.

    It is such a blessing that you are moving in a few weeks, but even a new house won't make YOU feel completely better. Dedicate the house once you are there. Think about a security system - it provides great peace of mind and after what you went through, I think it would help alot. This forum is good - write, talk, get it out.

    Love you and thinking of you...
    posted by Blogger chloe at 8/28/2007 03:26:00 PM  

  • Carrie,

    I am SOOO sorry to hear what happened. That is terrible news. Having heard stories from people throughout my career (security industry), it's the peace of mind that is hardest to replace. You can easily buy the new computer and TV... usually they won't steal pictures, and other personal items because they are just looking for cash or items they can quickly fence to get their next "fix". It's the feeling of insecurity, fear, and lack of trust that is the hardest thing to overcome.

    I don't mean to "profiteer" from your experience in any way... but let me know if you want our company to come visit once you've moved in. We have an office in Anaheim, so it's very close!

    For those other readers who don't have security systems, I highly recommend you consider getting one. They offer great peace of mind and usually your insurance provider will give you a discount off your premiums to help offset the monthly monitoring rate.

    I've been in the industry for 8+ years and can give you recommendations if you'd like. Talk to Carrie and she can give you my contact info... I would recommend avoiding the summer door-knocking companies for various reasons. If you want to know more, I'd be happy to share.

    Carrie... if the owner of your current house is willing, you may want to have a system installed there for your immediate peace of mind, and for future renters. We have another office in Van Nuys... Let me know... our toughts and prayers are with you...

    The physical thinIt's said to hear the statistics
    posted by Blogger Brandon at 8/28/2007 03:28:00 PM  

  • I was a wreck when my purse got stolen a few months ago, and once I got it back I was able to throw it away and walk away...this move really couldn't have come at a better time...and whoever said it earlier is right...time heals...and I am so glad Sugz and you guys are ok....
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/28/2007 05:02:00 PM  

  • I am so sorry to hear about this. I won't offer much advice since I am a paranoid freakazoid, but here are my two cents:
    1. Always back everything up (I learned this the hard way after our video camera bag was stolen and it had the dvds of our first borns first three months of life) I would randomly have breakdowns for a while after knowing that special footage was gone forever. I found myself thinking bad thoughts about whoever was watching me look at my newborn and hoping they were feeling guilt like never before (and some other horrible things, but I won't go there). Do you have .mac? I just got it for my birthday - it's amazing.
    2. Put things that are super important to you in a safe or lock box or somewhere else entirely. This way you will most likely still have those precious posessions in the event of burglary or fire, flood, etc.
    3. Be cautious. That doesn't mean you have to change your outlook on the world, but install a security system, set booby traps, start a neighborhood watch - do what it takes so that you feel you are deterring unwanted visitors.
    Good luck getting over this and viva la move.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 8/28/2007 10:35:00 PM  

  • I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this right now! Moving is stressful enough. We have an alarm system at our new place that we have not connected...now I'm thinking we should. I am so glad you are all ok and that you have traded cars. Smart move. One less thing to worry about. Maybe I'll buy you pepper spray for a housewarming gift.
    posted by Anonymous Marianne at 8/29/2007 12:28:00 AM  

  • Our home was burglarized a few years ago - we didn't have kids yet, but I too was shooken up for a while. The police determined it was probably a homeless guy - they took my husbands warm clothes, riffled through the fridge and pantry, and took my husbands mission bike and entire baseball card collection, something that can be sold easily for cash without a trace. Oh, and the punks took a carton of ice cream out of the freezer, ate some with a spoon, and then dumped it by the back door. We look back now and laugh about it, but it was so serious then. We took some comfort in the fact that the person who took our stuff needed it more than we did. Not that breaking into someone's house and stealing their stuff and leaving their house completely trashed is the right way to do it. Grr. I'm sorry it happened to you.
    posted by Anonymous been there at 8/29/2007 06:24:00 AM  

  • Carrie, this is so horrible. I am so very sorry. I don't think I have any new advice. Just want you to know we're thinking of you and are so glad for the blessings on your list. I hope you can restore your sense of peace and I'm so glad everyone is ok.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/29/2007 07:09:00 AM  

  • you know, its stories like these that really make me hate people. (admittedly, i have issues) Ive had a lot of stuff stolen from me, but never from out of my house, so I think this is the ultimate invasion of privacy. OH and the constant surge of emotions; anger, frustration, fear, more frustration, and sadness, lots and lots of sadness. At first i was sad at the things i really wanted and could no longer have. But then it changed. I was Mostly sad because this is something they will continue to do for the rest of their lives. these punks are making really poor choices and one day it will get them. it really will. And until then, they slowly waste away their lives stealing to get money, drugs, power, (who really knows) And with each successful robbery, the urge to strike again grows stronger. LIke any addiction. WHat a waste of potential. What a waste of a life.

    You will come to trust again, but i think, not completely. its unfortunate, but it is the kind of world in which we live. And even though forgiveness brings peace, it will not make you forget. But thank heaven we know that they are just things, and the true value of our lives is measured by our relationships, our ability to love, forgive and understand.
    I think a lot of prayer (and a security system) will bring all of those to you and you will find peace again.

    bless you. good luck with the move and stay strong.
    posted by Blogger kristie at 8/29/2007 11:10:00 AM  

  • Thank you everyone for your comments and concern. It has been really comforting hearing from you all. Lots of great practical advice and a lot of words of wisdom. thank you.

    Time is a wonderful thing. I am amazed at how much better I feel about the entire situation as each day passes. Also, getting all my thoughts and feelings out has also helped purge a lot of those thoughts and feelings all together.

    I still don't know if we will get an alarm system. I don't know if it will make me feel better or worse. I think my sister (see comment from kathi) is the one who "gets" the torment that is going on in my brain. I guess it stems from growing up in the same house.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/29/2007 06:01:00 PM  

  • I'm so sorry. When I was younger, some punks came in while we were out. I think it was while we were on vacation. They came in through MY bedroom window. I don't know much of what was taken, but I do remember my mom mentioning that the punks took a breastfeeding video. The thing I missed most was the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers movie. We watched that a lot.

    My most vivid memory from that experience was when I was cleaning up the fingerprint dust the police used. I was thinking mean things in my head about how they're supposed to be the good guys but my sister and I were stuck cleaning up their mess. It still makes me smile.
    posted by Blogger Erin Marie at 8/30/2007 01:50:00 PM  

  • In our neighborhood, we call it 'the welcoming committee', as everyone gets robbed in pretty much the same way after moving in. (I live in a 'transition' neighborhood - we love it, but it's not without risks.) We now have an alarm system, two-way bolt locks (to prevent breaking the glass in the door and opening it from the inside), we've put a lock on our crawlspace (to prevent kids from coming in through the air conditioning,) and we have a safe bolted to the floor where we keep money and important documents. We also have neighbors keep an eye on the place when we leave town. It also helps if your neighbors have a big dog in their backyard.
    We can joke about the break-in now, since it was over 2 years ago, but I remember very clearly the feeling of violation and I'm sorry that you've had to go through this. No way around it, it sucks. The burglars broke into our house by breaking a window, and our dog was skittish whenever anything broke (dropping a plate, etc.), but she's forgotten since then. It can happen to anyone, in any neighborhood. We should all take precautions and watch out for our neighbors.
    posted by Blogger VirtualM at 8/31/2007 06:54:00 AM  

  • So so sorry. I had my purse taken from my car that was parked in my driveway, and it made me so skittish after that. I can only imagine what it must be like for you.

    For enrichment, we had a police officer come and talk about ways to prevent crime, etc. He said that most of the time, the perps do not "case" a place, as we have all been led to believe. They tend to wander around, see a house that looks unoccupied, do their work, and move on. That made me feel better, like criminals are not just always watching.

    Some tips he gave us that prevent a break-in: a dog, (although they seemed to have gotten around yours in a really terrible way--poor dog!), lights left on if you are gone at night, and also turning on a talk radio station while you are gone. That makes people think there is somebody home. Also, he said to identify "weak spots" in your house (usually sliding doors in basements, or french doors coming in from the back yard--french doors are particularly vulnerable) and figure out how to fortify those spots.

    So glad you are moving. Good luck with putting everything back together.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 8/31/2007 03:16:00 PM  

  • Oh, and one more thing...we were told to ALWAYS acknowledge anyone that we see walking down the street, etc., as we leave our house. Wave to them, say hello, let them know that you see them. That way we have a good visual on people who might just be 'roaming around' and apparently it deters those would-be thieves who are looking for an empty house - they know you are gone, but they also know that you saw them and they're less likely to hit your place.
    posted by Blogger VirtualM at 8/31/2007 05:54:00 PM  

  • I'm so sorry this happened to you. Counting your blessings is a wonderful thing to do. You guys are in our prayers. Hang in there, Honey. *hug*
    posted by Blogger MiniMarie at 9/05/2007 06:04:00 PM  

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