Sunday, June 29, 2008

Stolen Items

I've been debating for three days whether to write about this, the decision postponed by rampant paranoia and sleep deprivation, but today I decided to set it out in visible form. Late Thursday night (or, rather, early Friday morning) I got home from work and my house had been burgled.

The first thing I noticed was the front door, which was not quite closed. That puzzled me, as I'm very careful about checking the door each time I leave, but I only thought I must have slipped up. Then, coming into the living room, I saw that things were in disarray. Okay, I have cats. Things are often in disarray. Even when I found an old CD clock radio sitting in my desk chair, my initial reaction was to try to think where it could have been that the cats might have knocked it down.

Then I saw the empty shelves around the computer where I kept all my favorite DVDs. After searching frantically for them, in defiance of the obvious fact that they had been stolen (maybe I put them in the filing cabinet and forgot about it! Maybe they got knocked off and they're all on the floor under the sewing maching! Maybe . . . ), I ran out to the car, got my purse and my cell phone and locked the car. Then I came back in and called the sheriff's department. As I was talking to the dispatcher I heard a loud thump and the dogs all started barking. At the time I was certain that it was someone going out the upstairs window and being chased down the hill by the dogs. On reflection, I think perhaps it was something or someone who was already outside.

I really want to believe that it was something outside! It was after one in the morning and I live alone in the middle of nowhere.

In any case, the person was gone by the time the deputy arrived and there was nothing for him to do but take a report and give me a hug. (The hug is not normally part of the emergency services bit, I don't think, but in this case the deputy who responded was one of my nephews.) After that, well, I called in to work and sat up all night, listening for strange noises. About six in the morning the dogs started barking frantically again and I called out another deputy, but she didn't find anything either.

The thieves got away with a random assortment of DVDs including most of my collection of old TV shows. Of all the things they stole, what hurts most is my four boxed sets of Emergency! DVDs. It was my favorite show and I bought each one as it was released and watched them often. They also took a carrying case with almost every CD I owned (I only had a few -- maybe twenty?), a brand new mp3 player that was still in the box, my Word 2000 disc that I've misplaced the authentication code for (I'll probably find it now), and my desk calendar. I had also just gotten a new computer -- a low-cost emachines that came without a monitor. When I set it up, I just took out the tower and left the rest in the box, because I already had a mouse, keyboard, etc. They took that, box and all, probably using that box to carry my other stuff.

In monetary terms my losses weren't huge. Maybe $500 to replace everything? And, yes, it could have been much worse. But, for me, it was a lot. I don't make enough money to splurge very often on things like DVDs and it had taken me years to accumulate even the modest collection I had. And, besides all that, it was mine damnit! The injustice of someone else profiting from it makes me seethe.

I've told this story about fifty times now and people always ask the same questions, so I'll go ahead and answer them now.

Was the door locked? No. I've lived on this hill since I was three and we've never even had a lock on our front door. There's a lock on it now.

Do you have a gun? Nope. I've never even fired a gun, barely even touched one. I've been offered a couple in the past few days and had people try to sell me pistols. I will admit that, in light of these events, it has been tempting. I doubt I will get one, though. They say that if you have a gun, you have to be prepared to use it. I'm not certain that I could.

Where were your dogs? Probably hiding. They bark ferociously at anyone coming up here, but they won't confront strangers unless I'm here. Once someone starts to leave, now, they're fair game, and anyone who runs from them is asking to be attacked. Also, if I'm out in the yard and a stranger comes around, SallyJane (my rotti) stays right next to me and is extremely protective. She even growled at Joe (another of my nephews) the whole time he was putting the new lock on the front door, and Sally knows Joe.

What are you going to do now? What can I do? This is my home. I'm not going to be chased away. I'll lock the doors now, lock up my car when I park it in the yard, leave more lights on. I've given the police as detailed a list as I could come up with of what was taken and I've been calling all the pawn and second-hand shops, asking them to be on the lookout for my stuff.

I'm sure that, in time, the nerves will ease up and things will gradually get back to normal. But I look around. The dogs are on edge, barking at any strange sound and every passing car. The cats sit in hunched bundles, staring out the windows and flicking their tails with tension. As for me, I have taken to sleeping fully clothed with the car keys in my pocket and my purse and cellphone beside the pillow. And it occurs to me that there's something I left off that list of stolen items.

Peace of mind.


Susan Adrian said...

Ah, Loretta, I'm sorry. I've been robbed twice. The first was when I was 13 and came home from school to find it all looted and torn apart. Scared me horribly, and made me damn angry too. They also took all my precious videotapes (at the time), which seemed to me the worst.

John O'Brien said...

I am sorry for your trouble, Loretta. Maybe I can help.

I work for a company called LeadsOnline, the nation's largest online investigative service used by law enforcement to find stolen property. We have a nationwide database of items sold to pawn shops, secondhand stores, on eBay, etc. where your items might show up. We cover more than 4000 stores across the country, including many in Missouri.

(We can even help locate them if they are pawned hundreds of miles away.)

Ask your nephew at the sheriff's office if they use LeadsOnline to investigate stolen property crimes; 79 agencies in Missouri do.

If not, they can sign up for a free 30-day trial during which they can search for your things.

Please call me at 800-311-2656 if you have any questions. I may be able to help you find your stuff.


John O'Brien said...

I just noticed that your profile gives your location more specifically than just Missouri: Clinton County Sheriff's office is INDEED a client of ours.

Good luck in your efforts and again, I am sorry for your troubles.


John O'Brien

Janet Reid said...

i'm just glad you're ok.

That sense of violation is hard to shake. Last time I was robbed I wanted to do an exorcism of the apartment I was so spooked.

I'm really glad you're ok.

Loretta Ross said...

Susan and Janet, thanks for the kind thoughts! Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. I'm still running on rampant paranoia and haven't been tending to business much yet. Last Thursday night when I got home there was a blackout and I almost had a heart attack before I realized none of my neighbors had power either.

And then, sadly, on Friday night my rottweiler died. I worried at first that she had been poisoned, but it turns out it was natural causes. I didn't realize this, but apparently rotts are short-lived dogs and she was pretty old for her breed.

Anyway, things have GOT to turn around soon! If not, I just might have to go for that exorcism after all.