Sometimes Your House is Broken Into

Robbed, burgled, Violated.
I came home early yesterday, a quick stop between work and tennis, I thought. I unlocked and opened the front door, put my bags down and closed and locked the door.  After a brief stop in the kitchen (honey, if you’re reading this could you please change the water in the flowers tonight? Love you) I headed to the basement to pull clothes out of the drier.

The basement door was wide open.

Thinking Jim had stopped by the house and forgotten to close the door, I closed and locked it and then I went to my bedroom.
Every drawer was open. Empty jewlry boxes were strewn across the dresser, every closet was standing open. And that’s when it hit me – someone had broken in and robbed us.

I immediately called the police and Jim and then I waited and waited and waited.
As I waited I started assessing what was taken – laptops, gone.  Blu-Ray player gone, diamond earrings that were stupidly sitting on my dresser, gone.  The necklace Jim bought me and surprised me with in Ashland – gone.
Jim’s camera – gone.
Then I noticed disturbing things like the fact that all the drawers were open but not all had been gone through. The fire safe was pulled away from the wall but not open and not gone. The kitchen door was also slightly open. From the looks of it they had been robbing the house when I CAME HOME.
When the police arrived – 3 hours later, (Thanks Mayor McGinn for ignoring basic services while spending $60,000 to put a bike lane in on a hill with an 8% grade) they confirmed that it looked like the burglars were at the house when I arrived.  The police then searched the house thoroughly because burglars have been known to HIDE in the house when interrupted!

Luckily, ours had fled.  So while replacing the window the burglars REMOVED – frame and all – to get in and having an alarm system installed I thought I’d share a few tips I learned.
1. That fire safe Jim mocked?  Heavy and bulky, it saved us from losing our passports and the majority of my jewelry, but a floor or wall safe would be better.  If these had been thieves with a moving van, we would have lost everything.

2. Write the models, serial nos. and prices of all of your electronics down and keep it somewhere safe (like you wallet, and a copy at work, etc.).  The police write a report of all that is stolen and send it out to the pawn shops who are required to report if the item turns up.  The more identifying information you have, the better chance you have of catching the thief when the item is fenced.

3. Call your computer manufacturer if your laptop is taken.  I called Dell to find out the serial no. for my laptop and they marked the laptop as stolen.

4. Get an audible alarm system.  Silent alarms don’t scare the casual thief off and the police can’t always be there at your house within minutes. Seriously consider an alarm system.  They are anywhere from $30-$50 per month and basic installation is generally free.  The scariest part of our experience is that it could have happened when I was home alone.

5. Report any suspicious car or person loitering in your neighborhood.  The police told us they will check them out and don’t mind.  In fact, they said it helps them keep an eye on trends in neighborhoods.

6. Upload your photos to a website the minute you take them and photoshop them and reload them thereafter.  Jim’s laptop and camera were stolen and as a result, he lost all of his photos from his recent trip to Ireland.

A big thank you to the police officers from the East Precinct who answered our call, checked under our beds and took fingerprints for us – you made a bad situation bearable.

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23 Responses

  1. FRIGHTENING…..and even worse to imagine that they were in the house when you “disturbed” them. Thank God you are alright. All I really know is that people are getting so desperate for money lately is that they are taking some really crazy chances… in Phoenix we’ve had a few banks robbed in the middle of the day. Meanwhile we’re spending unnecessary dollars on curb repairs that are not needed.

    • Very true. The police told us that they are seeing these type of robberies all over Seattle as the recession drags on. My friends in Irvine, California (one of the safest cities in the U.S.) said they are seeing break-ins and even armed robberies because of the recession.

  2. I am so sorry you had to go through this!! God, how scary. I’m so glad the robbers fled before you came into the house – I think that is a great lesson for all of us…when it appears someone has been in the house we probably should wait for the police to check that they’ve left!!

    Thanks for all the tips…I’m sorry this happened to you and I hope that the rest of your weekend is good. Take care and stay safe!

  3. An alarm system is a fabulous thing. We had a fellow hide in the bathroom adjoining my office. He climbed over the wall, onto a bookcase (I found all the knickknacks IN the ceiling) and hit the floor. He also was directly in the line of the motion detector. When the cops clld from my office I was a couple of hours away at a client’s home. Fortunately, nothing was taken. The scary thing is that in our neighborhood the bad guys have been taking the electrical boxes off houses to disable the alarm systems. Think about a satellite system, please. Thank goodness you’re safe!!!!!!!!!!! Kate

    • No worries on the electrical – they can cut the power and our new alarm system will still be going strong!

  4. Sorry that you were victimized. Perhaps the most important thing to do when you walk into your house and think it’s been burglarized is to turn around and walk out. The most important thing is to be safe.

  5. So sorry to hear about this! Sending you good vibes.

    • Thanks everyone so much for your good vibes and concern. So nice and comforting too. We were very, very lucky that we weren’t hurt and they didn’t get very much. I’m convinced I have a guardian angel working overtime. We’ve also learned some valuable lessons. One I didn’t mention in the post, but have thought of recently is the need for a “jewelry file.” Because it’s so hard to describe and there are no serial nos. for jewelry my thought is: a photo paperclipped to the receipt and for jewelry that has it (wedding rings) the appraisal. Then you have the value for the insurance co. and a photo for the police. This applies to jewelry you love as well as valuable jewelry, the jewelry I lost wasn’t very valuable but had a high sentimental value. Same goes for artwork, and anything else unique. Our insurance company also recommends a video inventory – looks like I’ll be putting the mini-camera to use for something other than the blog 😉

  6. Not happy about this. Glad you are getting an alarm system finally. You could have been hurt. You are getting mace for Christmas. I am glad you are OK. I will send you the book I read on burglars. It is called “Buglars on the Job” (yes I have a case study book on Buglars; not quite sure who wants to steal my janky treadmill and agatha raisen book collection but…)

    • I would like to steal your Agatha Raisin book collection. Pepper spray would be nice, I’m all out, but could I please have a pair of brass knuckles too 😉 Can’t wait for Christmas. Speaking of which, I have thoughts regarding that. Let’s chat offline as it would be a surprise.

  7. I’m so very sorry to hear this….thank goodness you are o.k!

    A woodinville neighbor

  8. Most important, I am glad that you are safe.

    Please take!

    Your Seattle neighbor

  9. I am so sorry. Bless your heart. My thoughts are with you two. I’m thankful that you weren’t hurt, but what a horrible experience. I wish I lived closer to you…I would bring you a meal or some brownies. Please know that I’m sending you a hug!

  10. This is awful. I feel so bad for you. Good luck getting that alarm system in SOON!

  11. Oh my god! I am glad you are okay, but I can’t imagine. I know how bad I felt when my car got repeatedly broken into, but my home. I’d kill somebody. Are you going to check the pawn shops for your stuff? Maybe you can get some stuff back. I am so sorry this happened to you 😦

  12. I am so sorry to hear about your recent experience. I deal with this kind of thing on a daily basis due to being a police/911 dispatcher. It is always disheartening. I am glad you are okay though and that is what counts.

  13. Oh my…I’m so sorry you had to go through this:( And to think they were likely still there when you came home…how scary!!!! I hope they make a stupid mistake with the stolen goods so they can be caught!

  14. I’m so very sorry. I am thankful that they left when you arrive and no one was hurt. =(

  15. oh sarah this is awful!!! I am so sorry you are dealing with this and I would be completely freaked out just thinking they were in the house.

    we had someone come in to the house when just my mom and I were home when I was about 7. all they did was steal her purse and leave…but they had been watching for that moment and it freakd me out fo ra long time!

    • That is definitely the creepy part – the fact that someone had most likely been watching our movements. The shocking part was that it happened in broad daylight in an area where a number of people on the block don’t work or work from home.

  16. Oh, Sarah, that’s terrible. We were burgled back when our kids were little, and it took us years to get over. So sorry to hear about this.

    • Thanks so much. We were very lucky in that they didn’t have time to take much and we weren’t home. Still, the alarm system cannot go in fast enough – I woke up every hour last night ;( Sorry, to hear it happened to you too.

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