I had a pretty nice trip to Georgia between Christmas and New Year, where I spent time with my family and cuddled my little niece all that I could before she gets big enough to stop me. After that, I returned to Michigan and spent New Year’s Eve with my boyfriend. I did not consider the year to be off to either a particularly good or bad start until I got a phone call early in the afternoon on New Year’s Day.
Since I did not recognize the number, I ignored the call at first then listened to my voicemail on my way home. It was the property manager for my apartment / flat / whatever you call one floor of a duplex that has its own address. When I called him back, he informed me that there had been a break-in the night before so I should not be surprised to see some chaos when I got home. I thanked him for the heads’ up and proceeded to drive to Detroit.
I can be a very emotional person but when it comes to external stimuli, I can also be pretty stoic. I think I inherited that from my mother; a woman who is so calm and practical in many situations that it can still surprise me even after knowing her for thirty-five years. Anyway, I took the news calmly and was not worked up when I pulled up to my place and noticed that there were lights on which I definitely did not leave that way.
My front door was still locked (both the knob and the deadbolt) and I did not really see signs of forced entry when I went into the house although I immediately noticed that the light was on in my storage room, where I rarely go. Weirdly enough, I do not think they took anything from there. There is an empty spot on one shelf but I honestly do not know whether something used to sit there or not. I can say for sure that my foot and neck massagers were left behind, even though they were in clearly marked boxes. Also, I have an almost brand-new leather jacket that was still hanging on the shelf, so that was either a missed opportunity on their part or they are strict vegans.
Stepping into the living room, it was obvious something had happened since there was a big empty space where my television used to be! Also missing from my entertainment center was my Blu-ray player, Fire TV stick, HD antenna, sound bar, and enormous CD wallet containing almost all of the music I have purchased since CDs became a thing in the nineties. Also, for a reason I do not really understand, a shelf was pulled partially off of the wall although the only thing on there had been pictures, which they did not take. Strangely enough, despite stealing my music, they do not appear to have touched my movie collection. I later found the antenna on the floor behind the unit, torn away from the cord that had connected it to the TV but they managed not to knock over my glass Galileo thermometer so, thanks? For a short time, I thought they had stolen my internet (well, the devices that make it happen, at least) but no, they had just been unplugged, so at least that was an easy fix.
I did not immediately notice anything missing from my dining room / library although that place is pretty messy. I would later discover that my old computer had been taken from my desk. This was especially devastating because they took my current computer from the couch along with the backup hard drive that had been sitting right on top of it. I was smart enough to be backing up my data but I was preparing for computer failure, not theft. I guess I learned a tough lesson that way!
Moving on to the kitchen, the obvious issue was my refrigerator. The door had been left open. I found that very weird. I mean, maybe they were hungry but since I was out of town, there was not really much left; mostly just leftovers I had not dealt with yet, condiments, and cheese. I decided to keep the vinegar-based condiments because they are probably still fine and get rid of the more perishable stuff. It was sad because I had wanted to eat that brie! I did not notice it at the time, but for some reason they took my good chef’s knife. It was not crazy expensive but I liked it and was very annoyed to see it was missing. Even in the chaos that is my standard of living, I only keep knives in so many places, so I am pretty confident that it is gone. This confuses me but whatever, maybe they needed it to commit some more crimes. I had recently sharpened the blade, so it might be fairly effective. They took my brand new Echo Show, a device I did not really plan to buy but got because of a bundle with the new cell phone I had just treated myself to. That thing was surprisingly heavy and totally unnecessary but kind of nice for watching television while I cooked and did dishes.
My bedroom was the worst hit. The whole apartment felt fairly chilly, as I had turned my thermostat down to 50° before leaving the state but in my bedroom, I could actually feel the wind whistling through the obvious point of entry. There was broken glass all over the floor and my bed. I did not notice until later when I went to change my sheets that there was a huge rock or chunk of cement sitting right in the middle of my bed. When the property manager came by, he took it out with him and estimated the thing to weigh 40 lbs. All I know for sure is that it left a big divot in my memory foam mattress topper and introduced at least a couple pill bugs into my bed. Even though I have been in my apartment for six months, I do still have the paper temporary window coverings up in my bedroom. I guess it was better than if they had torn the nice ones that I bought then never put up.
Having not been involved with a crime before, from either the victim or perpetrator point of view, I was not entirely sure about how to proceed. I probably should have taken more pictures but I think I was just cynical enough to assume there would be no actual investigation. I texted my boyfriend and my best friend, informing the latter that I might be returning to his house to spend the night. I then looked up the City of Detroit’s non-emergency police number and planned to report the crime. The woman who answered and took my information (which turned out to be incorrect, I had not had much of a chance to really look around to discover what was missing) did ask me my race as one of the very first questions. I believe in statistics and tend to accede to authority figures but I have to say that I did not like that question. It actually made me a little uncomfortable – how is it at all relevant to a burglary that happened when I was not even home? I am sure she was just doing her job, so what we need to do is update the forms. Anyway, she gave me a case number, which I dutifully wrote down (and soon lost) and told me that I could update the report at any time when I noticed more stuff that had been stolen.
My next call was to my insurance company. I have been paying for renter’s insurance since I moved out of my grandmother’s house several years ago. Fortunately, I have not had to use it before now although that also means that I had not carefully reviewed all of the limitations and clauses. While on hold, I started to read through some of the documents I was able to pull up on my iPad. Electronics and jewelry are both capped and my deductible is relatively high. Well, great! At this point, I headed back to my room, I had not even thought about my jewelry yet.
Unsurprisingly, the place on my dresser which had been covered in my jewelry was starkly bare. When I left town, there had been a handful of necklaces sitting there, indicative of my simple beaded style and made of pearls and semi-precious stones. Also, a plastic tackle box that had held no fewer than one hundred pairs of earrings. Only a few of the pairs were actually worth much individually but as a collection, that box was irreplaceable. It had the fun and quirky earrings that I had purchased at comic conventions and from Etsy along with the antique button earrings my mother picked up at quilt shows and unique earrings purchased in India and other countries that my parents visited without me. All I had remaining was the handful of earrings I had taken on my trip and the few pairs scattered about my place due to my lack of organization. Upon further investigation, I found that they had opened drawers in my nightstand and taken the necklaces I purchased for my best friend for Christmas although they left my passport behind. I know they saw it because it used to be in that same drawer and I found it sitting on my bed on top of the broken glass. I guess they were not interested in identity theft. That is one fewer hassle for me, at least.
At the end of the day, I decided to stay home. It was important to me not to run from my own home. I think instead of not being afraid, I was actually afraid of something different – that I would drive myself away and not ever want to return. It also really helped that my staying was optional. I could have gone to my boyfriend’s house at any time. His house is less than half an hour away and not an unreasonable commute (I did have to go to work the next day). Since I had the choice though, I was able to decide to stand my ground. I convinced myself that I was actually far less likely to be in danger since the broken window made it fairly evident that I had already lost my valuables. Why would anybody bother to break in again?
Still, I did not sleep particularly well that night. Partially it was the psychological ramifications of having my home violated but the wind coming through the shattered window was probably also a major factor. The next day, a board was put over my window although two weeks later, it has not actually been fixed yet. Apparently it is a special size or something and should arrive next week. This was fine until it got particularly cold the other day, since the board is not great at insulating and it is right next to where I sleep. The property manager promised to seal it up with some plastic to get me through the next week or so, I guess that will help although I do not look forward to seeing my heating bill for January!
My neighbor was robbed as well on the same night. He was also not home at the time and returned to find a big mess. I do not know exactly what he lost, at least his television set. Apparently, he had been planning to get renter’s insurance in the new year. I wonder if this will affect his rates? His back door was destroyed and I do not know what sort of patching-up situation they have for him but the door to the outside has a board nailed across it, which I did not notice until I went to take the trash out later in the week and had to walk all the way around the house through the wet grass to perform the chore. He does have a dog but I guess the burglars managed to deal with that. At least the dog did not seem hurt when I saw it the next day. (I do not like dogs but that does not mean I wish them harm, I just do not want them to be too close to me for both allergy and fear reasons.) I know that he has some expensive drums. It is hard not to know when one’s upstairs neighbor plays a percussion instrument. I somehow doubt they took that though, they left my spinning wheel and sewing machine alone, so I suspect that they were not going for specialty items.
Anyway, that is what happened to me on NYE. What a great start to my year! The aftermath has been pretty annoying too but that might be fodder for another post.