Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I feel badly for my neighbors

Their house was burglarized yesterday. The burglar(s) entered through the bathroom window, stole jewelry, and left through the garage. None of the neighbors saw anything suspicious enough to call the police. When we came home from work my husband noticed a white car in their driveway but didn't think anything of it. Another neighbor reported that he saw a white car drive off quickly. We were even out by our cars in the driveway for about 5 minutes and didn't notice anything strange.

The neighbors aren't home very much. The wife moved in about 5 years ago as a divorcee with two daughters and has since remarried so I think they sometimes stay at his prior residence. The daughters are now grown, and I think both married, and sometimes they are at the house with friends. It's hard to really know what's suspicious or keep track of what vehicles belong there. When I left for my sewing group around 6:45 last night, I noticed the garage door open and our trash cans were still out. They didn't have any cans out, which isn't unusual, but generally if they come home and see our cans, they'll bring them up to the house and vice versa (although we didn't even bring our cans up last night).

We live in what I consider to be a safe neighborhood although it is a densely populated area, so some bad stuff is bound to happen. We had a radio stolen from an old truck once and someone broke the locks on our cargo trailer twice but didn't take or even disrupt anything (my husband joked that maybe they put something in it instead). I suspect a kid stole the radio since whoever it was crawled through the tiny sliding window in the truck cab. With the cargo trailer, someone might have been looking for tools, which are highly pawn-able. The robbery next door may have been one of opportunity or it might have been cased. The neighbors are Iranian. You look in their window and you see opulent marble floors and fancy furniture, so doubt someone could expect the jewelry box would be a good hit. Apparently only the bedroom was ransacked and the jewelry stolen.

As for us, we have an alarm system. We had talked about getting an alarm system for a while and it took a TV show to get us to finally have one put in. Yes, a TV show. The show was called "It Takes a Thief" and was on Discovery channel I think. The premise of the show was that a former burglar would look for a likely home to target, then approach the owners with the idea that they would try to break in and if they were successful, the show would help them correct their lack of security. The owners fell into two categories - those who believed their house was secure and those who admitted that they were lax. Unbelievably, people didn't lock doors because they'd lost the key or there kids didn't have keys, or they'd leave windows open or they'd just have really cheap non-deadbolt locks on the doors. During the burglary, the owners would sit with the host in a van outside their house and watch via cameras positioned throughout the house. In ten minutes the guy was in and out with the owner's credit cards, checks, cash, jewelry, expensive handbags, and anything else pawn-able. Sometimes they'd find the keys to the second car and steal that as well. The owner would then see what was stolen (and get it back of course), the house would be cleaned up, and an army of people would come in to install an alarm system, deadbolt locks, and a safe. Unfortunately for my neighbors, Discovery was not involved in their burglary. The wife may never see her precious jewelry from Iran again.

The sad thing is that our neighbors have a relative who owns an alarm system company. They just never got around to having one put in. When we had our system installed I thought it was a bit overkill, but not anymore! We also put in a safe and a locked box for our spare keys. Someone told me that they thought having an alarm system would advertise to thieves that we must have something worth stealing. Well everyone has something worth stealing, even if it's your bank statements with your name and account number on them, or your social security card. I feel awful for our neighbors, especially if it was a crime of opportunity and the burglars chose our neighbor's unalarmed house over ours. We don't have opulent marble floors but the tools that are out in plain sight while we remodel would be enticing as well as the other electronic toys we have. But my few pieces of good jewelry are in the safe or on me.

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