looking for a few good ideas

  amongst the irregular verbiage

Burglary Aftermath

We got back from our Great Northern adventure to get into the house to discover that our house had been broken into while we were away. The first thing we noticed was that the screen had been popped off one of the windows at the front of the house.

We had hired the eldest son of the next door neighbors to collect our mail for us while we were out, and this had clearly not been adequately done. There were a week's worth of newspapers strewn on the driveway, and some mail stuffed in the mailbox and left on the front porch. I went around to collect the mail that he had supposedly collected, and indeed, there was some to collect, but I didn't get to see the lad in person - his father actually handed me the bag of mail, and was very preoccupied with some other visitors at the time so I couldn't question him about anything.

Another thing was that the burglars had been careful to arrange things so that it was not immediately obvious that a burglary had taken place. We walked in an thought, "Surely we didn't leave the place quite so untidy?" but instead of calling the police we just started putting things in order. The TV was in the lounge, the VCRs had recorded what they were supposed to; my guitars were untouched, the dust cloth was still in place over the studio mixer and synths; our laptops were where we had left them... if we'd been burgled, we figured that these items would have been missing for sure.

Our bathroom had a big muddy footprint on the tiles, the window was open, and weirdest of all, the shower nozzle unit from the other bathroom was lying coiled on the floor.

Our first thought was that Derek had popped in while we were away, but he wouldn't have randomly rearranged stuff like this. Then we noticed some DVD's missing from our shelves, and I went outside and looked around the house and found all the screens popped off, and one of our suitcases lying outside!

We called the police.

We spent the rest of the evening talking to three officers and explaining what we did for a living, and discovering more things missing. The cops were mystified. No high-ticket items were taken, and the bathroom was apparently rigged to make it look like a forced entry. It began to look as though someone had had a key to the house! Ergh.

The suitcase left outside contained a car registration from someone in the neighborhood; our Charlie Parker Collection CD (the only CD missing!); a checkbook from someone in a nearby street; and packing material from some unopened inkjet printer cartridges taken from our office. The cops were very interested in the items found in the suitcase - it turned out that the car that the registration applied to had been reported missing earlier that day, and the owner of the checkbook had not realised that it was missing.

After the cops left we cleaned up the remaining mess. Over the next few days, several more missing items made their absence known.

As far as we can tell, the total haul the maverick plumbers got away with included: 6 DVDs (assorted Sci-Fi); my good studio headphones; an unopened container of oxywipes from Derek's bathroom; the contents of our office supply cabinet, including batteries & pens; our two unopened packets of CDR blanks; and my Palm Pilot VII which I'd stupidly left behind on my desk. (The last item actually belongs to Acme and I have no plans to replace it because I very rarely used it).

The police favour the idea that teenaged thugs took whatever they personally wanted, with no desire to fence the stolen items. (The oxywipes would back that theory up!)

As I write this, we have essentially replaced the other items that were stolen - and changed the locks on the house - for a total of around $600, and frankly, we feel relieved to have been let off so lightly!

Some time afterwards we had a chance to talk to the neighbours across the street, whom we traditionally haven't had much interaction with, and they told us that they had heard voices, and seen lights in the garage. We wished we'd let them know about our absence before we left! It seems that there is a possibility that the intruders had spent several nights in the house. Ergh again. Lesson Learned: Get to know your neighbours!

As far as we know, the varmints responsible have not yet been apprehended, but we suspect relatives of the landlords.