It went from a typical Monday to a Nightmare
When I finally moved into my own apartment I fell in love with the lifestyle. Knowing things would be where I left them, if there was a mess I was the one who made it. Not having to wear pants. The first time, decorating choices were in my own hands. I had really made a life for myself there. I felt safe, secure and happy there.
Everything was mine. Yeah my couch was from Goodwill, the chairs in my living room were extras from my office, my kitchen was insanely small and sometimes my place was a mess but it was my mess.
My apartment was about 10 minutes from my office so I would often go home on my lunch break to relax.
One Monday last November I went home for lunch like most days and then locked up and headed back to the office around 2:00p.m. After work I went to the gym and returned home a little after 6:00p.m.
I remember that particular day I had an amazing cardio day. I kept listening to Hayden Panettiere’s “Don’t Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet”, on repeat and was feeling like I could handle anything. As I walked up the stairs towards the apartment door I noticed my porch light was on along with the inside lights. It struck me as odd but then I thought maybe maintenance had stopped by, they’d left lights on before.
My apartment was a little older so sometimes the door stuck. I put the key and turned it but had to use all my body weight to push it open.
I looked inside and it hit me fast and it hit me hard. I literally felt like someone had punched me in the chest.A shallow and painful feeling filled my heart. My new T.V was gone, my first flat screen I’d purchased not even 2 months before from Sam’s Club. Wood chips under my feet from where the door had been crowbarred open, the collection of DVD’s I’d spent more than a decade building all but gone, what DVD’s left thrown on the floor.
Adrenaline pumped in my veins. I threw my purse and gym bag on the couch. I rushed to the kitchen, grabbed the butcher knife and went into the bedroom to see if anyone was still there. I examined the bedroom, the light was on in there and in the closet but the bathroom seemed undisturbed.
I stabbed into the racks of clothes in case someone hide behind them. After I cleared the fear that anyone was still there a different feeling came over me.
This indescribable mix of disbelief, fear, anger and defeat. I was once again a victim. Tears rushed to my face.
I called the police and they informed me someone would be on the way shortly.
Next I called my mom deep in denial that this was happening.
“Hello Motto,” as she heard the sobs her voice changed, “Baby what’s wrong?”
I could barely get the words out, “Someone broke into my apartment.” Hearing the words out loud only made me sob more.
She tried to calm me down the best she could and I told her I’d call her back.
Next I called my (now) ex, we’d only been seeing each other about 2 months and he still answered the phone with that excitement you do when things are new and you can’t get enough of the other person.
“Hey,” he said gleefully.
The sobs continued as I explained to him what happened.
He responded with anger, about how much it pissed him off that people did stuff like that and started rambling about how his truck had been broken into before. He apologized and said he had to get off the phone because his boss was approaching and he’d call back.
I grabbed my purse and ran to my next-door neighbors. I hadn’t officially met them before. We’d seen each other in passing and said, “Hello,” but never had a formal introduction. For the most part I kept to myself. There was this episode of Will and Grace where Grace tells Will not to befriend a neighbor because it would turn into a thing… having to water their plants if they went out of town, having to invite them over or letting them hang out at your place in the event they got locked out of theirs, a commitment I didn’t necessarily want to make. I’d always been the type of person to keep to myself.
I knocked on their door and a man’s voice asked, “Who is it?”
Through my sobs I got out “Your neighbor.”
They turned on their porch light and a few moments later opened the door. In the way any mother would she put her arms around me and sat me on the couch. I sat for a minute trying to hold back my tears in front of these people I barely knew. Then I told them I needed to go back to my apartment and wait for the police. She offered to go with me.
We waited for a while and the cop came and took my statement, he looked around at the damage and followed me into the bedroom where I started to realize the other things missing. The blu ray player my mom had gotten me less than a year ago so I could join the Netflix watching community. My clothes discarded on the floor.
“They stole my fucking laundry basket,” I screamed, “What in the world?”
“They use it to carry your things,” he explained, “What else is missing?”
I looked behind him and my heart sank once more, “My jewelry box is gone. I had jewelry from my grandma in there.”
Something became apparent the longer I talked to the policeman and the more I discovered was missing. This person knew me. They knew not to go into the bathroom, they didn’t bother with the kitchen. They went straight for the items best for selling. They cleaned out most of the DVDs, they knew the secret area in my nightstand where I kept my camera. They didn’t just grab my laptop but it’s case in the other room. They knew me. They knew my place. They knew I wouldn’t be home between 2: 00 p.m. and 6: 00. They didn’t alarm any of the neighbors no one saw anything. It was broad day light, a street adjacent front door, during school zone hours and rush hour and no one saw anything. They knew me!
The cops even confirmed robberies like that are typically done by someone who knows you or at least has been watching you.
I was disgusted, angry, violated and pissed off.
I forgot that not only my parents but my sister had both been through this before but it was different. Yes I felt horrible for them but this time it was my home, my belongs, my sanctuary.
In total they stole about $6,000 worth of items. The replaceable: electronics, DVDs, designer bags, a pillowcase (to carry more of my stuff), a laundry basket, costume jewelry.
The irreplaceable: The memories on my camera that hadn’t been uploaded, the quilt I got from my Aunt’s house when she passed, the jewelry my grandmother gave me (who passed away this past August), the ruby and gold ring my mom had been saving for me since I was an infant with our shared birth stone that she finally gave me that previous June. The love of my apartment.
The complex wouldn’t allow me to break my lease but they “so generously” allowed me to transfer apartments and move to a second-floor unit a few buildings back.
Aside from a few upgrades the apartment was identical.
I didn’t sleep for a week straight. I crashed on the couch of a friend who lived in the same apartments and every time I managed to fall asleep it was followed by a nightmare and I would wake up crying.
It’s never how I would have imagined myself to respond. I didn’t think that having someone walk into your home and touch your things, take your things… how that could make you feel wrecked.
After the break in I was pretty broken up, needless to say. I still wake up in the middle of the night if a noise shakes me in fear it’s happening again but this time with me home.
The thing that’s really annoying about having your house robbed (besides the personal violation and inconvenience of it all) is the stupid shit people say to you about it.
For the record, “At least you’re okay,” “It’s just stuff,” “You should move to a safer neighborhood.” “I’ll be happier when you live somewhere else,” can kindly remain unsaid.
Let me explain why before ending this somewhat long and serious blog.
- We are glad we are okay, we aren’t saying losing that 40 inch flat screen we got on special is the same as being stabbed in the stomach but it still sucks.
- Yes it is just stuff… but it was my stuff and I worked hard for it. So unless you want to replace it with your stuff keep that comment to yourself.
- I should move somewhere safer? Nowhere on the brochure did it say, “You will get broken into.” If I didn’t think it was a safe place to live I wouldn’t have moved in here. Also nice neighborhoods get robbed just like any other neighborhood.
- You’ll be happier when I live somewhere else? Well considering I’m the one who was just robbed I’m looking forward to it myself.
It’s something even the most empathetic person won’t understand unless they have had it happen to them, so even the best intentions can lead to the most unsavory statements.
Just remember that while it does suck to lose your stuff and deal with police reports and insurance (if you were fortunate enough to have it, thankfully I did, although I didn’t see any money for months) it’s really the emotional damage it does. Your home is a sacred place and someone came in without your permission and violated that. It’s a feeling of disgust that’s hard to describe and I know even when I get out of this place I will still be reminded of it and that feeling from time to time.
They never caught the person (or people) who did it. Typically apartment robberies go unsolved and narrowly investigated.
Have you ever had your home broken into? How did you regain your sense of security?