Saturday, June 23, 2012

Smashed and Grabbed

   Ok, it wasn't exactly the middle of the night, instead it was just a little after 10 p.m. and I had just dozed off to sleep when I got the call. I didn't recognize the number so I let it go to voicemail. They hung up instead of leaving a message so I blew it off. Then they called back so I hit the voicemail button again and this time they left the message you hear in the video. I called them back with the case number and they told me what was happening. Since I was out of town when it happened there was basically nothing I could do about it until the next day. I've told a couple of people what happened since then and here are a lot of the questions they had...

Q: How did the cops get your cell number?
A: I'm not really sure. I think there is a city-wide disaster type of database that you can submit your emergency contact info to, or I could just be totally making that up. More realistically I think one of the police officers noticed I had a stack of bills on the kitchen table that I had just paid and flipped through them until he found my phone bill and got the number off of it. I say that because the bills had been turned over and the Sprint bill was pulled out of the stack.

Q: Who called the cops - how did they know?
A: My neighbor. She went to get something out of her car and noticed my front door was wide open, that and she could hear the alarm going off.

Q: How did the burglars get in?
A: Through the front door - they just kicked the sucker in. The front door wasn't in all that good of condition to begin with and has obviously been forced open at some point in the past before I ever bought the house.

Q: Did they dust for finger prints?
A: I suspected it when I noticed some tissues with a black powdery residue on them in the trash, but whatever they dusted they wiped off (cleaned up) so I'm not sure just what exactly it was. Plus, they mentioned it the next day when they read me the incident report.

Q: Did the cops just leave your door open?
A: The cops secured it as best as they could and then locked the door behind them and gave my neighbor the key. She said they were inside for a while with hammers and nails and pieces of scrap wood and they finally got it to stay shut and to lock.

Q: Where did the police get a key to your door?
A: I had a spare key sitting on an end table where I normally empty my pockets at the end of the day. Apparently they put two and two together..

Q: When did it happen?
A: It was during the afternoon in late May.

Q: Do you think they knew you were out of town?
A: I don't think so. I'm pretty sure they assumed I was at work though, just as most people are during the day.

Q: What makes you think this was a random thing?
A: Because such minor, little things were taken - and let's face it, you and I are not that important and our stuff is not that valuable. If we owned houses in Beverly Hills with priceless paintings or jewels then I could see someone "casing the joint" but I can assure you that no one is going to go through that much trouble for a flat screen TV.

Q: Are you afraid the burglars will come back?
A: Nope, not at all. These guys (I'm assuming there was more that one) were after small electronic gadgets like iPods, gaming systems, cameras and stuff like that - generally things without registered serial numbers. Guns and bikes are too risky to try and pawn. Also, I'd imagine that after they hit a house they realize the owner will "beef up" any security system, windows, locks and doors.

Q: Were you afraid to stay in the house when you got back?
A: Nope, although I did hesitate the next morning when I picked up my toothbrush to brush my teeth. But then I quickly got over it. I guess the reason I wasn't too squeamish about a stranger rummaging through my stuff was that someone had broken into my truck over a year ago at the supermarket. After something like that happens once you get over imagining cooties everywhere.

Q: What all was taken?
A: They got a laptop, iPod, camcorder and TV - none of which had any real value.

Q: What did the insurance company say?
A: They were very easy to work with. We estimated the total loss, including replacing the front door, at about $1,600. After subtracting out the deductible they sent me a check within a few days.

Q: What could you do since you were out of town at the time?
A: I think that was the hardest part of all. Not knowing what was taken or how much damage/vandalism was done made for a long, sleepless night. The dispatcher did make a random comment though, she said "The officers told me to tell you that your bikes are still there." Then she put me through to my neighbor who said that she and her husband were keeping an eye on the place. She also said the cops sat out in front of the house for several hours as well.

Q: How did the officers know about your bikes?
A: My neighbor could see my road bike from the front door and a lot of times it's easier for the police to make of list of things that aren't missing instead of trying to guess what is.

Q: Have you heard anything? Do you think they ever catch them?
A: No, and no. However the police did say that burglars are often caught later on when they try to pawn the stolen items. I thought about poking around on Craig's List or canvassing the neighborhood to see if I could spot anything, but honestly I really haven't had the time.

Q: Will this change the way you post things on Twitter/Facebook?
A: No. I'll still post pictures and updates when I'm on the road. It's like I said, my stuff isn't valuable enough for anyone to go through the trouble of planning some kind of "heist".