I drove to the front, called Ryan and then the police. At the same time, our new neighbor came out. After I told him what I saw, he said he had seen someone running from our yard at about noon. He had a fairly good description of him.
When we finally entered the house, it was a shock for me to see our stuff thrown around. In some rooms, it was like what you see in a movie with dumped drawers and baskets. Cabinets, closets and drawers were open, contents spilled out.
I am sure there is a prescribed way for victims to process the experience of being violated - disbelief, anger, sadness, fright. We are feeling the whole range of emotions. And just when I think I have moved on from sadness, I realize something else is missing and that feeling pours all over me again. Sleep was hard, if not impossible last night. My mind was racing, processing the experience, trying to make sense of a senseless thing.
There are always "what ifs" in life, but unfortunately we cannot go back. We can move forward, change the way we do things and learn from mistakes. Here are a few things I can pass on:
1. When you purchase something like a computer, TV, camera, etc. - copy the serial number down onto the receipt or instructional manual and file it away. The serial number is invaluable to the police who can use methods to track down your items at pawn shops.
2. The police recommended that we do not tell the boys. We were able to clean everything up before they returned home at 6pm. They have not noticed their missing piggy banks yet. I hope to replace them before they do.
3. Do not leave laptops, cameras and camcorders out in full view. They are easy access not only for you, but for a thief. When I first purchased my laptop, I hid it every time I left the house. Then I got lazy.
4. According to the way our house was searched, the usual places are where they go - master bedroom and closet were the main places searched. They looked under our mattress, in our nightstands, underwear and sock drawers. They were also looking for drugs and looked in our medicine cabinet. If you are going to hide your possessions, be more creative. Thieves are not.
5. Use a safety deposit box or good hiding place for your jewelry or sentimental possessions I lost some pieces that I rarely wear, but are still very important to me.
6. Know your neighbors. I met our new neighbor through this experience. He thought something was not right, but he brushed it off because we had been doing work on our house. If we knew one another, he could have called me to check.
7. Add deadbolts, window pins, alarm system and/or dogs - whatever fits for your family. We are making our Home Depot visit today.
The boys came home at 6pm, and we ate dinner, talked about their final swim lesson and the small ceremony they held for them. I read to Sean, Ryan played chess with Logan. Ben decided to join us when he thought he might get dessert. As I walked around our home, turning down lights and double checking the locked doors, I thought of the Who's in Whoville waking up Christmas morning and joining hands and singing. The Grinch was shocked how losing their presents did not phase them. They still came together to sing. They still had each other.
And that is what matters.