Thursday, August 09, 2007


The front door wasn't pulled closed as tightly as usual which is what created my daughter's feeling of apprehension when she arrived home that afternoon. Noting also neither of our family's cars parked in the driveway, she went to the neighbors to express her discomfort with the fact our house’s door was ajar. Our neighbor came with her to the house, and cautiously pushed open our front door. They could see nothing out of place in the living room, so stepped into the entryway.

They were greeted by only absolute silence, so concluded that no one in our family was present. Their increasing unease with the situation resulted in their decision to phone the police. In retrospect, we all realized they should never have entered the house at all. They should have instead phoned the authorities in the very beginning lest someone was hidden in the house.

The local police arrived almost immediately. They must have been close by. The officers conducted some preliminary exterior investigation before entering the house. They established there had been intruders, but they were no longer present. Entry by our family members was now safe. About that time my husband arrived home from work and learned of the break-in.

When I came home a short time later, the officers had just left, so family members greeted me with the account our house had been burgled. My first feeling was of heightened alarm at the thought my children might have been home and the danger to which they might have been exposed. That concern was alleviated as I learned the sequence of events from the time of the break-in discovery until I returned home.

The officers' concluded that burglars had entered through a small window in another room, after breaking a glass panel, rifled through our belongings, then exited by the front door. I was told the manner of the robbery was unsophisticated and unprofessional. Coupled with that information was the fact the point of entry was such a small area, detectives had deduced there was a high probability that the culprits were young kids.

But now, my sense of anxiety mounted as I looked around the house. I quickly headed toward my bedroom, since my family members initial investigations indicated most of the ransacking appeared to have occurred there. Walking down the hallway, I felt the muscles in my neck and shoulders tense, my stomach tighten to ward off unpleasant feelings that could precipitate tears should I find unwelcome sights or missing emotionally valued possessions. Thoughts of items that might have been taken centered mostly on those of sentimental value such as my recently deceased mother's wedding rings.

My husband had discovered earlier the items he was missing were from the top of his chest of drawers. Most significantly absent, was the wedding ring he had no longer been able to wear due to swelling in his hands and fingers as a consequence of medical problems. I experienced a sickening feeling with the information his ring was gone. Pictures flashed through my mind like one of his colored slide shows of 35 mm photos. I could see our visits to the jewelry store, making our final ring selection, arranging to our tastes the slight change in ring stone design, then visualizing the engraving we had done on the inside of each ring that made them ever so personal. The re-lived show climaxed with the moments when we presented our rings to each other.

I noted soon after entering our bedroom that a few pieces of my jewelry were missing. Curiously, in the earring category only one of each of several matching pairs was taken with the mate left behind, lending credence to the likelihood of the youthful nature of our criminals. I also discovered my underwear drawer had been rifled. The drawer contents certainly called for laundering now, though there was no outward sign of soiling.

Stashed at the front of the drawer, but now missing, had been a couple of souvenir
miniature bottles of vodka from some much earlier event. We were rather glad they had located those bottles as we think that finding deterred them from further felonious activity. With this bottled spirits discovery, I think the crooks headed straight for the kitchen.

The partially filled orange juice carton had been removed from the refrigerator, the vodka possibly added, then clearly shaken with the lid opened. The orange liquid contents had splashed on the soft yellow ceiling, slopped on the geometrically patterned floor, smeared on papers lying on the oval-shaped maple table and sprinkled in small now-sticky puddles across the table top with a few drippy splatters on the wall. Quite possibly the mess-makers left the house soon after, perhaps having concluded they didn't dare stay any longer. All I could think was, how much worse the aftermath might have been from these marauders.

Nothing appeared missing in my daughter's room, but they had invaded my son's bedroom. A damaged metal cash box indicated they had expended some time prying this locked box open. How excited they must have been imagining paper money or some other valuables from the slight rattle that came only from the empty drawer inside, but they didn't know that, so disappointingly they found nothing for all their effort.

Later searches throughout the house revealed additional items of consequence were missing, along with some items that had little significance except to me. They took my Sony Walkman that was one of only two prizes I had ever won in a drawing in my entire life. (The first was a boy's bicycle won many years ago when I was single, but I had sold that for the obvious reason -- I wasn't a boy.)

These thieves did take my first ever just started personal journal from a bedside night table drawer. This book, a gift from a friend, would have had no value whatsoever to them. I've often wondered did they just glance and see writing on the first page, then conclude there might be more of interest to read? Or, did they just want a souvenir?

The reality was, the only entry I had made was on the first page. That entry had been ever so carefully worded with abstract questions, a generalized quote, non-specific wordings with intentional vagueness as to obfuscate any literal meaning to anyone except me. The fact these hooligans took my journal served only to reinforce my long held apprehension about the wisdom of ever writing my inner most thoughts in a journal in the first place.

I had always felt strongly I didn't want other eyes to read my thoughts, believing that some meditations are better left inside the mind, which I do occasionally forget, only to sometimes regret later having done so. These common crooks had graphically demonstrated to me that a written journal would always be at risk for such a personal violation. Could I reconcile myself to taking this risk again by starting a new journal, or would I even want to bother?

Most people with whom I've spoken, or read others written accounts about their home having been broken into, share a common view. Even those of us subjected to the experience more than once are left with intense feelings of anger, vulnerability, as though our whole being had been violated in some obscene way. I can only wish the same experience on those who commit these acts, but then that would likely just reinforce in their minds justification for inflicting a retaliatory response toward other unsuspecting souls which may be what prompted their act in the first place.

Clearly there is a lack of moral compass, an inability to discern right from wrong, a failure to respect others, poor judgment discerning acceptable behavior in a society, absent feelings of empathy with known or unknown people being robbed. Such actions are simply not bored kids wanting to have fun. There is never anything funny at any age about inflicting pain on another human being whether by actions or words. There is damage to the belief in the good will of one person toward another clearly violating trust.


  1. I have never experienced anything like that, Joared, and I hope never to. I am glad none of you were hurt, and that it wasn't more serious. I also hope that the parent's of the kid(s) who did it somehow found out and soundly punished them.

  2. This has happened to me in three different occasions and the three times it happened, I felt totally vulnerable. Actually, the worst part was the time when a sum of money disappeared from an envelope in my purse while I was away from my flat. There had been no effraction. It turned out, months later, that it was my cleaning lady.
    I think that I resented that more than the other two thefts by burglars, people I had never seen. And I felt awful about it for months.

  3. Your post reminded me of the time our house was burgled. The sense of violation never really goes away.

  4. I understand completely. And I've heard the same from other crime victims.

  5. I haqve experienced this kind of thing a few times in my life...My car was broken into and nothing of any balue was taken...My Apartment was bbroken into and quite a few things of value were tken, though nothing that held great sentimental value....
    Years later, my house was broken into--I was New York at the time with my mother who was dying...Everything was picked over...but, only one thing that was of great value to me on a sentimental basis was taken....
    Many years later, I stopped a hoime invasion by returnig to my home almost immediately---within about 16 minutes of leaving..As I opened the garage door...the Would Be Thief ran down the side steps of my home into the then impossiblly impassable hill...He got away.

    I have been told that ALL of these things happening was the price of living in Hollywood!!!

    It was just as you said....A sickening know that ALL your things have been picked over and touched by some stranger or strangers....HORRIBLE.
    I have an elaborate system of protection since that time....BUT, I had some plants stolen right outr of the ground...MORE Violations....and I put in an even MORE elaborate system of protection...! Since that time of the Plant Theives...which was over 15 years ago...Things have been okay, except for some outgoing mail being stolen and a check cashed within a half hour after the robbery of that mail....
    Maybe they were right. It is the price of living in Hollywood, right above the Boulevard!

    BTW: I will ask Betty if I can post her Essay...! Or if not, send it to you directly.

  6. Been there. The feeling of violation is horrendous.

    What I find interesting is your journal and your feelings of exposing inner thoughts.

    I find blogging to be a huge self-editing process, especially for those at our age.

    On my to-do list is to go through all my many journals and edit out, tear out or throw away most of the contents.

    Drugs are a motivating factor for many break-ins. Jewelry though has such sentimental values... the loss of a wedding ring is really the loss of what is associated with memories...

  7. I'm glad your family is safe. Fortunately for me, I have never had such an experience. Thank you so much for sharing. I have learned a lot.

  8. Joared,
    Once, we came home from a week away and found that burglars had lived in our house for 3 days.
    They made spaghetti and didn't like it so they threw it all over my carpet and walls. They used the bathroom several times and didn't flush. They did terrible things in our house and then on the way out they set off our fire extinguisher which put baking soda all over every surface in the house.Then they did the most foolish thing of all and it was the thing that got them caught. They WALKED all around the house through the baking soda. They left footprints everywhere.
    The detectives came and took pictures of the prints and even made a cast.They didn't recognize the type of shoes and neither did my husband or I. But, I knew someone who would know. My teenage neighbor was called in to look at the prints and he immediately identified the culprit. It seems he was the only kid in school who had that expensive brand of sneakers.
    The cops went to his house and sure enough, the shoes he had on fit perfectly into the mold.
    We went to court to testify but he confessed so there was no trial. I thought the judge should have let us make a victim's impact statement just so we could let him and the other kid know how they had hurt us. But the judge slapped them on the wrist and would not allow us to say one word to
    them or their parents.
    Two years later, one boy was picked up again. This time on a more serious charge and now he was over 18 so he is in real prison.
    I have always thought that perhaps hearing from us would have let him know what a terrible mistake he was making but we never got the chance to speak to him.

  9. That great sense of 'violation' can be overwhelming...and sometimes hard to get past. I've had some things stolen out of my garage....not personal items really...and felt totally violated. Heck, I just had some kids (apparently) leave the front doors of my car wide open with a sign pulled from a telephone pole left on my windshield. Nothing was stolen, nothing vandalism...just kids being delinquently the middle of the day when anyone could have heard or seen them. Apparently noone did...including me. A friend happened by and called to tell me. I'm amazed at the brazen attitude of the offenders. It bothered me enough to make sure I lock my car all the time now. This happening outside my home....I truly can't imagine how I'd feel had it been inside.

  10. Kenju & Paul: Am glad you've never had the burgle experience; not one to be desired.

    Claude: I think the violation is even more hurtful when it occurs from someone we thought we knew and trusted, like your cleaning lady. That was the case with the third and last burgle we had, a new young person the family befriended.

    oldoldladyofthehills: That home invasion robbery is really frightening, glad he ran away. Doesn't take very many minutes away from home for something to happen.
    Plant thieves can sure be a problem, too. Too bad Hollywood folk such as yourself are probably high profile targets. Wish it wasn't so, but glad you're more secure now.

    motherpie: You are right about blogging being a self-editing process. Getting to a point where I even started a blog, much less disclosed some personal info in such a public forum has been an evolutionary process for me. Yeah, I wondered if money for drugs was the motivating break-in factor.

    nancy: What you describe was done to your house interior could easily have been done to ours. What a sickening feeling you must have had to see that. I realizeed at the time how much worse our situation could have been. I think your idea about being allowed to speak out at the sentencing of your young burglar makes sense. You must have felt especially frustrated at the time.

    ell & Kay: Sorry you had to go through the burgle experience, too.

    Joy: Glad your recent experience didn't result in damage. Yeah, I think doors of all kinds really need to be kept locked, today, everywhere, I'm sorry to say.

  11. To the young thieves, what they take away is just stuff. To the victims, parts of their lives -- the memories -- are stolen, and the loss adds to the feeling of violation. We had a spree of burglaries one afternoon in our neighborhood. The young men were caught by a truant officer as they fled a house and most of the loot was recovered, leaving five shaking homeowners in the wake. As much as we all wanted justice to be done, the boys were back in school the next to day to brag of their adventure! It seemed the officer did not read them their rights and they were released and the charges eventually dropped! What are we teaching our children!?