6 lessons I learned when we were robbed

Guest post by Addy
Burglar & Spider © by mcoughlin, used under Creative Commons license.

It’s a bad feeling: walking into your home only to realize that you’ve been robbed. Coming home after a long day at work, it was a shock to see our front door wide open — even more disturbing to see everything upended.

The thieves didn’t take much, but what they took was valuable. They’d gone through our entire house and left it in total disarray. Couch cushions were searched for anything valuable and dresser drawers were pilfered. Even though they went through all the drawers in my jewelry box, they left all my good jewelry. In the end, they took a bunch of electronics and my husband’s safe. I’m just thankful they didn’t take our cockatoo. We have a theory that they were scared of the noisy thing, even though he is just a big teddy bear. They had tried to cover him, probably in an attempt to quiet him. Cockatoos can be LOUD, with their voices carrying over several miles in the wild.

When it was time to file the insurance claim, we had none of the documentation we needed as it was all in the safe. Our list of valuables, our insurance information, were gone. This would have been perfect if the house had caught fire as the safe is fireproof, but not very helpful in this situation.

What I learned when I got robbed

  1. Keep a list of valuables in a place other than the safe. The robbers were in and out of our house in probably less than 15 minutes. It doesn’t leave time for them to open the safe, but it certainly leaves time for them to grab the safe and all the paperwork inside.
  2. Don’t be lazy. If you get a safe take the time to bolt it down. Otherwise it is very easy for it to walk away.
  3. A robber is looking for easy to flip items. What they take won’t surprise you, but what they DON’T take will be a surprise. They left our computer, my expensive sewing machine, and my good jewelry. Other people I’ve spoken to that this has happened to had similar experiences.
  4. For whatever reason, they left my altar untouched. This was a nice surprise when every other item in my house had been upended. Take this as you will, but I see it as the power of religion.
  5. That big bulky TV and old gaming system you keep thinking you need to get rid of? While they took our newer items, they left our old Xbox. My husband was also able to dig up his old Nintendo. While it’s not Skyrim, they have kept him occupied while we wait for the insurance check to come in. That old stuff may balm your sadness if your new stuff gets stolen.
  6. Keep a positive attitude. When something like this happens it’s easy to get into a negative frame of mind. We’ve had fewer arguments than we would have two years ago in this situation because we are both very focused on the bright sides.

We only lost STUFF — and the back door, which needed to be replaced anyhow, and now the insurance will pay for it. Now THAT’s the bright side of the situation!

Comments on 6 lessons I learned when we were robbed

  1. I can’t imagine the feeling of violation you get when you get home to that. I’m glad you can see the bright side, and I hope everything works out for you in the end. You’ve a much better attitude than I would have after something like this, so you’re already winning in my book 🙂

  2. If you kept important papers on that safe, keep a closer eye on your credit for a while. If they got stuff with SSNs and that kind of personal information, they could use it for identity theft. . They could take out credit cards in your name, etc. They’ll probably just throw it away, but it pays to be cautious.

    I’m sorry for your experience. I sort of know a little how it feels. Thieves broke into my garage once while I was still in the yard. They managed to get away with my weedwhacker, even though I was shouting at them.

  3. My car was broken into a few years ago, and all that was stolen was about $30 in change, and a ski pass. Really nothing worth caring about, but the overwhelming feeling of violation was what surprised me. The ANGER I felt caught me totally off-guard. I am an incredibly laid-back, gentle, hard-to-piss-off kind of person, but I am ashamed to say I honestly wished harm upon whoever had done it. In the end, I realized it was probably a homeless guy who needed that $30 more than I did, and put my energy into hoping that he can find a better life.

    A car is SO different than a home, though. Your home should be your ultimate safe place. Did/do you have trouble feeling safe/secure since then? Did you change anything about the physical security of your place? Just curious, as I feel like that would be my biggest hurdle if it happened to me.

    • We’ve added a security door to our back door as well as added heavier duty doors to the front and back. We had ADT come by and now our Dog is running around in the back yard all the time. She used to be kept in her kennel while we were gone, but now the kennel is only there for when we have company over. We are thinking of a few other things as well.

      • Be sure to put up a “Beware of Dog” sign visible somewhere on your fence. In some states, the robber can sue you if there isn’t a sign and if the thief gets attacked by the dog. It sounds crazy, but my parents experienced this first hand when our German Sheppard attacked a robber trying to break into the household. Luckily, we had a beware of dog sign (it fell into the bushes), so the thief couldn’t press any charges.

        Another tip would be to leave a light on in the living room. You can set it to a timer, so it clicks on at around sunset and clicks off around midnight. At least this way, it appears that you’re home and awake.

        • timers are great, but change the times on them occasionally.

          if you have a window in the bathroom, this would be an ideal place to put a lamp on a timer. no one ever thinks about it, but if there’s a light on in the bathroom, that = someone’s awake and in the house.

          also, have a bright light at all entry points. be that obnoxious house in the neighborhood with a yard lit up like a dang Christmas tree. this can help avoid unwanted nighttime visitors. a thief generally goes for the darker houses.

        • OK, I just have to say that this makes me furious. You can sue someone because their dog bit you while you were breaking into their house. Personally, I’d be cutting them up into little pieces and feeding them to my dog. That is seriously bullshit.

          OK, got that out of my system.

          • This sounds stupid on the surface, but a lot of these laws come from trying too prevent people from booby trapping their property and thus creating a hazard for innocent ppl ( like if you have a ton of land and someone doesn’t realize they are trespassing) or for emergency personnel. It sucks that a burglar might try to sue but hopefully the circumstances would middle the case up. I used to really hate those laws but now that I know what they are for I am a little less frustrated.

  4. Hey me too!

    I was robbed right before Christmas last year. It was just like you said : they know what to take. Well *kinda*. They left dead computers in another room but took dead computers from my office. I was away when it happened and had all my current “good” computers and electronics with me but my new flat screen TV and allllll the media electronics that went with that? Ouch.

    I found out I was under-documented too but my insurance was very good about it. Online ordering saved my ass because I had all those receipts saved in email! It also helped that when I moved into this house I boosted the “computer” portion of my insurance policy but I was still a little bit over my max. (What can I say? I have a lot of computers.) Also I frankly had a hard time remembering everything I had and am still finding things missing. So I’m trying to fill out an exhaustive home inventory to make sure I’ve got the proper insurance coverage.

  5. i know a lot of people don’t trust banks, but a safe deposit box at a local bank is absolutely invaluable for situations like this.

    scan copies of all important papers and keep them on a secure thumb drive. Corsair makes a series of drives (called the Survivor series) that are submersible and stand up to a crap-ton of abuse. keep this in the safe deposit box and keep it updated as needed. i’d also suggest putting all really important photos and media files on this drive in case you have a fire and it damages your computer/photo albums. thumb drives are significantly more shelf-stable than a traditional hard drive, as there are no moving parts. when a traditional hard drive sits for too long, the oil in the bearing that allows the platters to spin settles and the drive no longer works. data recovery is possible in this scenario but VERY costly…like, in the thousands of dollars kind of costly. the new solid-state technology being used in some hard drives is equally stable but still expensive, so i can’t recommend it at this time.

    also try to keep a second copy of everything on your person. look into securing the drive. TrueCrypt is an excellent piece of software for this purpose. it reduces your personal risk should the drive end up stolen or misplaced.

    should you get another safe, find a way to secure it to the structure in which you live. if you rent, ask your landlord if you can bolt a safe to the floor. if you own, then make sure that sucker isn’t going anywhere.

    • another suggestion, if your situation permits it, is to invest in a camera system. hook it up to the internet and monitor your home yourself. you will be able to give accurate descriptions of the thief(s) to the police as well as potentially get someone (police, a neighbor who’s willing to intercept them, whomever) to the house faster.

      • Has anyone had success with this? We had a video/audio security system when we were broken into repeatedly, and it was even monitored by a professional monitoring company, but ultimately it didn’t do a bit of good aside from giving us a (false) sense of security.

        • note, i didn’t say pay someone else to monitor it. why spend all that money when it may or may not work?

          there was an incident in the news recently of a woman who watched people break into her home, and she gave accurate descriptions of the thieves to the police as it happened. i don’t know what came of the incident – i never followed up – but i can honestly say that i’d prefer to have a chance of stopping someone, rather than trusting someone else to do it for me.

          • Rather than replace his old knives and old coins that were in the safe, the hubby is opting to get one of those 4 security camera systems you can get from costco. The one we are looking at will allow me to remote in with my phone. Also, if you go to harborfreight.com you can get a 4 security camera system around $300. Not bad for an extra sense of security. Expecially if you live in a high crime rate area like we do.

          • Addy – absolutely. i also live in a high crime area (though the weekly/montly/quarterly statistics disagree), and we have been lax in getting our system set up.

            i’m glad you’re going that route. i truly hope this never happens again.

        • Rugz’s friends have their house wired for audio/video, they’ve been broken into twice BUT the police were able to pull stills from the footage. They have it set up so that several copies are sent to different places, including to an online account. It’s not a preventative measure, but it did make things easier to deal with afterwards because they could see exactly what was taken and had pictures of the people that did it.

      • This is a good suggestion and they may SOUND expensive, but they really aren’t. A decent camera will set you back less than 100 dollars. And sites like WOOT.com seem to have a ton of them that come across with whole set ups. Plus if you invite your friends over, between a camera and some timers and you can have some fun with them and watch it from your computer room with a cup o joe’ :D. Not that I would do anything like that, especially to teenagers, that would be wrong.

        • yup. initial cost is more than a monitored alarm, but it *can* pay for itself rather quickly.

          …like when one wants to know the comings and goings of the neighborhood cats so one can trap them and take them elsewhere, thereby preventing one’s housecat from pissing all over the front door. sigh.

  6. We were robbed a few years ago, too — they also left all my valuable jewelry, or Wii and our stereo, but took a video camera that my husband (a director) had footage on, which sucked.

    What was worse: the thief came in through our kitchen window and placed some not-valuable items from the counter on the ground outside of our house: a tin of cookies I’d made, our Brita pitcher, & a bottle of wine. The cops took them to look for prints, and we never heard back from them! It was like getting robbed twice.

    • I agree that the mess they leave behind is worse. It took me 2 weeks to get into my sewing room and clean it because every time I stepped in, it was a horrible reminder of what had happened.

      And even though they were there to protect us. It was hard watching the cops go through our house. Because the door was wide open when I got home, hubby wanted the police to go through and make sure they were gone.

    • Ugh, my sister got into a bad car accident a few years ago and they had to take her whole car (and contents) for evidence, apparently. They would NOT let her get any of her stuff back (like homework, special earrings, expensive sunglasses, clothes she’d borrowed from someone else… her ENTIRE musice collection in cd form…), and said she would be able to get them once the investigation was done. The investigation ended… and they compacted her car without telling her. With all that stuff in it.

      • So not ok! Surely she can get something in the way of compensation? I mean, robbery sucks and accidents are aweful, but to have things that were perfectly ok be destroyed by the people that are supposed to be helping you with the aweful event? As if you haven’t been through enough!

        • Police are terrible about these things. I’m not sure but there’s probably a law saying they don’t have to give you dick. My dad matched the description of a man who had just robbed a bank nearby. Wrong place, wrong time, he’d just gotten off work and had finished grocery shopping. They pulled him over, threw him to the ground and covered him with a pistol and a shotgun while they tore his car apart. I mean that nearly literally.

          They tossed every single thing out of the car, dumped the bags of groceries out onto the ground, threw clothing, papers, his work stuff, his laptop, even the change in the ashtray haphazardly across the highway. He watched his work shirts get hit by cars and dragged down the street. His laptop cracked on the side of the road. The groceries were ruined.

          Once they were done with the car, they went into the trunk, stripped it all the way down past the carpet, yanked the rubber stripping and the stuffing the carpet lies on out too. Finding nothing there, they took knives to every single seat, slitting them open and yanking out handfuls of the stuffing.

          In the beginning dad was yelling, asking them what they were looking for, what they were doing. They shoved the shotgun into the back of his head and told him to shut up so he did.

          When they finally decided that dad had nothing they pulled him off the ground and told him that he’d matched the description of a robber. They harassed him for a little while, asking him where his “accomplice” was and who had the money. They told him they were going to take him into the station. He asked if he could at least put his car back together. They said no, then there was a call over the radio that the real guy had been spotted and they all got in their cars and sped off.

          Dad spent weeks calling the police station, trying to get somebody on the line who would talk to him, help him, compensate him. Never got through to anybody. Nobody would talk to him when he went down there, either. He wrote letters to everyone he could think of, too. Don’t know why we never thought to call the media, one of those, “news station on your side” folks, but we never did and dad didn’t even get an apology.

  7. we had a break in last september while we were at a 3 year olds birthday party (what could be more wholesome?). they took every computer/computer like item, even broken ones. including an old broken iphone. they left my expensive jewelry that i don’t even wear because it’s so not me. they took my bike. they left the numerous guitars/amps/other instruments. our neighbors were home but they didn’t hear anything, our (small) dog was in her crate. they came in through a window we had accidentally left unlocked.

    it was a really depressing time for us. it’s been said before but it really just felt so violating. i cried a lot. it took us weeks to clean up the huge mess because it was just too depressing to deal with. we didn’t have insurance. we can’t afford things like new computers or a new bike.

    the thing that has been positive is how many people have come to help us and donated their old laptops, etc. so we could go online again. the thing that has been negative is that our property management company STILL doesn’t give a rats ass about our safety.

    there has been at least one more attempted break in since this happened (when my partner was home!) but we are much more vigilant about triple checking all the window locks and never leaving any computers in the house anymore.

    • God, this sounds like a nightmare. Reading about your experience just makes me want to sob. I think a lot of theives assume that everyone is insured so it’s “no big deal” when they take things that can be so important and violate your homestead.

      Even people who ARE insured can have a hard time getting everything back or compensated for, and not to mention the feeling of paranoia that i am sure must be a result…

  8. Im sorry you got robbed. But thank you for this post. My house was robbed a year or so ago. They took my roommate and my lap tops, jewelry, liqueur and wine bottles, safe, etc. What was worse is that they took all my heirlooms (grandmothers engagement ring and rosary, my mothers cross, ect). Although they didn’t take the $1500 in cash I was going to pay rent with. I learned alot of lesson’s from that robbery. Before that I didn’t have renters insurance and I didn’t have a list of valuables. When the police asked me to give them a list of what was stolen it took me forever to think of everything. I also had all my pictures saved to my computer and had no back up. Needless to say I made several changes starting that day.

  9. After my roommates and I were robbed in college, the police who came told us that the absolute best thing we could do to protect our home was to get a dog. They said a dog running around and barking, inside or outside of the house, is usually enough to deter someone from picking your house. At the time the only pets in our house were my hamsters, whose cages happened to be on stands in front of the window the robbers pried open and climbed through. They had actually set the cages gently aside on the dresser (while the rest of my room/house was trashed). I was thankful for that much. They stole my roommates laptop and her external hard drive, the DVD player and all of our DVDs (such a bummer), all of my jewelry (cheapie stuff, luckily). They also took my huge change jar…probably $80 or so of quarters, nickels, and dimes. It was a serious bummer and because they pried my window to get in, it took me a while to feel okay sleeping in my room again. I did NOT have renters insurance and got lucky that nothing big of mine was taken. I got wise really quickly and have carried great renter’s insurance ever since.

    • Dogs might deter a really casual thief, but a friend of mine had his house broken into about a year ago even though he has a large and noisy dog. On top of fixing the damage the thief did tossing the place, my friend also had to clean up several piles of dog vomit.

      Apparently the first thing the thief did after breaking into the house was dump a bunch of food from the fridge onto the floor to keep the dog busy. (My friend also had to completely restock his fridge because the thief left the door open and everything went bad.)

    • I am so with you. We have insurance that covers the property inside our house, but I need to make a list of valuables. One idea I have is to make a list of valuables per room. That way instead of looking at a master list of everything in your dwelling you can tackle what may be missing by room.

  10. Our former house was robbed a few years ago, I’m guessing by a neighborhood kid who had a date that night. Ze took: earrings, an heirloom diamond ring, two bottles of wine, and my weed. Oh, and as a calling card, the robber left some earwax-laden q-tips on our dining room table. SO GROSS!

    • Did you keep the Q Tips for EVIDENCE? When someone tried to knick our car’s catalytic converter (the first time) they left a cigarette in the driveway. Scott insisted on keeping it, in case it could link someone back to the crime — we suspected our neighbors.

      I think it was a luck totem. I finally threw it out a year later, and in no time our catalytic converter was gone, too.

  11. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

    I’ve never been robbed, but my husband has, several times. I LOVE our security cameras. My only issue is that they’re all inside, and I want one trained on the front door.

    I have uploaded pictures of every valuable, from multiple angles so you can see the serial number (if applicable), sent to multiple email accounts. I can’t seem to break the habit of photographing the house before we go out of town, just for comparison.

    In addition to light timers, I have a clock radio with multiple alarms- one goes on and plays the radio when we’re not home.

  12. I would just suggest keeping paperwork in its own clearly labeled safe. That’s what our family does – it has the combo written right on top, along with a note saying what’s inside, so no one bothers stealing it.

  13. When my apartment was robbed by a neighborhood crackhead years ago, the following was stolen:

    broken computer
    my backup hard drive
    The remote for my TV
    A small kitchen stereo (but they left that remote)
    ….and a bag of frozen chicken. Seriously.

    The thing that amazed me was that he had to pick up my super expensive macro lens to get to my stupid backup hard drive. He gently placed it on my bed and left it there.

    That was the most violating experience. I washed all my clothes after that happened, because I couldn’t get the image of someone going through my underwear drawer out of my head.

  14. One of my friends was robbed when she went to the hospital. She got sick at a party and we had to call an ambulance for her. She was the only one living at the house, and people took advantage. When my fiance and I gave her a ride home, we were all shocked. The house was almost entirely empty! All they left her with was the child’s bed she had for when her little brother visited.

    Getting the stuff back was easy, some party-goers were caught red handed with all her things in a garage and a storage unit. But that was still awful! What the hell is wrong with people?!

  15. Hello, I just recently moved out for the first time. I have very few valuable items, but I am terrified of being robbed, because if they break a window or leave a door open my cat will run away! I have taken several precautions to avoid someone robbing me due to being an easy target, but if someone was determined enough they could get in. Do any cat owners have any experience with being robbed? I can’t imagine crating a cat while not at home.

    • have your cat microchipped and make sure the cat is licensed and wears a tag. that, really, is the most you can do for your cat.

      for your apartment, however, there’s plenty. have a deadbolt installed on any door leading to the outside (if you don’t already have one). don’t leave blinds open during the day. secure all windows. don’t have any expensive items out where they can be seen. if you buy any expensive items while living there, break down the boxes and bag them BEFORE taking them to the dumpster. don’t talk about your possessions with other tenants. keep all outdoor lights on at night if you’re on the ground or second floor.

    • We were robbed just last week and have an indoor cat. Luckily he hid behind the lounge and didn’t come out until we came home. He’s 8 years old which is great. He probably would have run away when he was younger.

    • We were robbed this past Monday and we have five indoor cats. All but two left through the kitchen window the thieves smashed to enter our home. We were able to recover all three cats because my husband waited up all night listening for the final cat to return which he did. We lost over thirty thousand dollars in personal precious belongings including heirloom jewelry and my husband’s large valuable watch collection plus several thousand in cash. The only thing that mattered was getting all the cats back which we did. The insurance company will pay nothing on our claim as they said we needed an additional policy to cover the items stolen. Funny how they never mentioned that when we signed up with them. Also, the damn police took over six hours to show up and never came back for fingerprints which we have been carefully storing awaiting detectives. AS of my conversation with them this morning, they have no intention of returning to do their job.

  16. I was broken into a few weeks shy of a year ago: While I was home, asleep in bed! I live in a crappy rental and they broke in by getting the back window open, which is stupidly located next to the door (the handle side!) so they could get their arm through and open the lock. The landlords were too stupid to have a proper dead bolt installed on such a stupid window setup (but we have one now). We now keep the door permanently deadbolted and we have a cuboard in front of the door (we never used the back door anyway).

    There was more than one person do it because they took BOTH of our cars. My husband had left our car keys on his desk, along with his ipod, and my iphone was on my desk before going to bed so they took all of these. The one thing I’m angriest that they took/did something with is my stuffed dog that sat on my dashboard 🙁

    Part of me wishes that we knew they were here when they broke in so we could scare them off, but with so many horror stories about these people having weapons and being abusive, I guess it was good they took what they wanted and just left.

    It has taken a long time for me to get over it though. I’ve always been jumpy with noises, and it frightens me that the one time I DIDN’T hear some weird noise was when we were actually broken into. It’s only been the last couple of months I’ve been feeling better about being up late by myself, or home alone though I still have to have all the lights in th ehouse on to feel safer. In a couple of weeks it’s the “one year anniversary” and I’m getting freaked out that they’re going to remember this date and come back again (which I know is stupid).

    It’s also frustrated me that I’ve felt like some family/friends just didn’t care about this happening when I worried about it afterwards. Because it was just my cars that were stolen, they just didn’t seem to think of the ‘broke inside the house while someone was in it’ part of the burglary which is what has affected me the most. As other people have said here, you feel violated and it also creeps me out!

    • Wow! I just read your comment as I am googling randomly and reading blogs and articles about being robbed, as this is one way I deal with the anxiety that resulted from my home invasion. My experience is almost exactly like yours! Except cut the number of victims and loss in half, because I was alone, no partner home with me. And, I also saw the person, but only from behind. Your story is so on par with mine, to how the person got in and what they took, that I got woozy reading your story. After reading some of your sentences I thought, ‘did I wrote this, but forgot?’ Ha. Also I fear the one year anniversary, which will be February 2018. I lived in an apartment with the same backdoor/window set-up as yours, and that is how the guy got in. It blew my mind to realize how dumb of a set-up it is. I was sleeping too, but some rustling noises woke me up and I pretty much unconsciously reacted to them by jumping out of bed and running into the living room, where the noises were coming from. Them BAM! There he was, a hugely tall giant fu–ing guy one foot away from me, in the middle of tearing through my living room, and it felt like a nightmare and I froze in horror, he took off through the front door with his arms full of my shit, I eventually unfroze and looked out the front door, and he was already in my car. Like you, my keys and purse were in my entryway. I had various thoughts race through my mind about trying to stop him from stealing my car, but then I slammed my apartment door shut and went to fetch my phone to call 911. But the fucker had stolen my cell phone, too. So I started panicking not knowing how to call for help, then noticed the knife he dropped, laying on the floor by my bedroom door. Had he been in my bedroom while I was sleeping????? I can only wonder. He took my purse with all my i.d.’s and money and cards, so I had no way to get a rental car until I finally got new license and cards in the mail a week later. I could not work for one month because I was so dysfunctional and sleep starved. I could barely function. I had bad PTSD symptoms for a couple months, still have intrusive but not as debilitating symptoms, and am forever changed, I know. My brain and sense of security are altered. Prior to this many years ago I had a different car stolen from a lot, and it was really difficult financially and yes, it made me feel violated. But I didn’t feel directly physically threatened WITHIN my own mostly secure home. On the other hand, having someone break into your house while you are in it is an entirely other level of horror. I do not feel safe, I feel extremely vulnerable. I feel personally targeted and like I must be perceived as an easy conquest, since I was home when it happened. I noticed a mark on the window he reached through, so I was cased and specifically selected in advance. Though I feel very lucky, too, that I did not get attacked as I reactively ran towards him in my house. But I am still not ok. It feels like someone went into my brain and inserted this memory, or that it is a nightmare I never woke from. When it comes to a person brazen enough to break into your house while you are there or steal your car in front of you, or both at once, who knows what else they can do to you, physically. Lots of adrenaline fueled meth users these days. And yes they DO come back, the main cop in my case even warned me about that. He also said breaking into houses to get car keys is a new trend. And sure enough, two months later, I came home from work and the back glass storm door had been fucked with and they had dropped and left the prying tool between the storm door and regular door before giving up. So my added security measures worked. They could not get in. I added both external and internal security. I moved away anyway. I did extra stuff to secure my car, too. I am glad you did not know and were thus not able to try and stop them. Have you ever seen the face of a person on hard drugs, or intensive adrenaline, being aggressive? I have. It is like the Incredible Hulk, with eyes of stormy fury. People do get killed trying to stop car thefts or home robberies, it happens where I live, at least. I know the importance of protecting your property and especially a tool such as your car, but what if you got severely injured or killed? The logistics of a home invasion are complex and a bunch of WHAT IFs, so I won’t comment on that. I am mostly a pacifist, but even if I did have a weapon I was trained to use, it would have been useless since I was basically responding in sleepy, sleepwalk like mode. And I am so sorry important people in your life have not given you the recognition or support they should give. Stay strong and surround yourself with ideas/things/ actions/people that validate your concerns. It is traumatic. I talked with two male Iraq war vets who have long term PTSD from serving, and even they were upset by my experience and story, and seemed eager to share support and advice for dealing with the PTSD stuff. They both pointed out that noone should tell you how to feel, and that safely talking about it helps you deal with it in a healthy way. The locksmith who came to my house to change the locks (since my whole keychain was taken) was horrified. The detective knew how scary it was and even she said it would change me. On the other hand, my dad told me to say a few prayers and to move on with life and then started talking about sports. That was a huge slap in the face and made me feel like throwing up. It is a total change to feel this vulnerable, I have always been a totally fearless, adventurous person, traveled all over the USA coast to coast by driving alone. Night hiking in the wilderness alone (risky yes, but with proper tools). But not now. I have had many other personal bodily and property violations in my life (my city has a crime problem), but none of them has had the all-encompassing, real PTSD, emotional, intellectual, and PHYSICAL problems, long term constant on-edge state as this. Maybe the fact that I was living alone made it more difficult??????? Can’t say. I am still floored by questionable noises, too. When that happens I ask, is the alarm going off? No. So noone opened a door. You can also install bright motion detecting lights, AND motion detecting alarms the you put outside and they sound off when someone walks by them. Those are neat. Just talk to some old guys in the security section at home depot and you will get new security ideas. The old guys are eager to share their ideas. Don’t be afraid to casually mention in to random people. The people you love may let you down, but you may come across a stranger who has some sort of way to help. And in the process you are providing people a reminder to practice home security.

  17. We’ve been having issues in our neighborhood with burglaries (we caught our tweaker neighbors trying to break in next door not too long ago) and I’ve caught other unsavory types snooping around people’s properties. Add that to we have no police force anymore due to budget cuts, it makes it a bit nerve wracking. After our neighbor told us they saw someone come out of our backyard one day we’ve decided to increase our security. I actually just posted on my blog about it last night. We have large intimidating dogs that do a good job at protecting the house (we keep them inside when we’re gone) and an alarm system but we want to make sure to keep people out of our backyard. We started with a new gate that can’t be opened from the outside or kicked down. We’re also looking at using hotwire on the fences and possibly getting surveillance equipment.

  18. Not sure how long ago you were burglarized, but it is VERY common for the thieves to return to the house after a few weeks (typically just long enough for you to have replaced many of your items).

    We were burglarized once. And then again, one month later (after we had just installed a brand new fence and gate). Five months later, the burglars came back a THIRD TIME. Fortunately, we got video of them on our new surveillance cameras and the sound of our new dog barking scared them away. We sent the surveillance video to the local news and they aired photos of the crooks, which was great.

    Bottom line – once they know (a) the layout of your home, and (b) that there is no one home during the day, they will be much more likely to return.

    Getting a big dog has helped (plus all the other security measures), but this experience made me want to just quit my job and sit at home in the dark with a shotgun. I understand now how people get so paranoid.

    • I know the feeling. I keep hearing that they like to come back after a you’ve had a chance to replace everything. We went to a neighborhood watch meeting and there was a teacher there who has been robbed 15 times over the years.

      We’ve already beefed up our security, but I still want to add more seurity. I’m lucky that I recently received a promotion that allows me to work from home a couple days a week, and I’m tempted to do that just to be there. But at the same time, I worry that if they do decide to come back and I’m there. I don’t want to be there if they decide to come back. I’m small, I’m not very strong, and I’m not delusional. They went over the back fence and broke the back door. I just have to hope that letting the dog run free rather than keeping her in the kennel will help keep them away. Plus there’s the new alarm and security doors.

      • Best part – after discovering they were being filmed, they stole the security camera. At least now they know they’re on camera whenever they step foot onto the property.

        Most burglars are cowards and will not attempt to enter a house that they know is occupied. After the 3rd break-in attempt, I started wishing they’d call in advance so I could make sure to leave the house.

        Sounds like you’re taking all the right steps. Be vigilant, stay in touch with your neighbors, and try not to let the experience ruin the good feelings you had about your house. To me, loss of that feeling was the worst theft of all.

  19. We were robbed about three years ago. We lost almost all of our DVDs (though they moved my box sets of Buffy and Angel out of the way – no taste, clearly), a drawer from our entertainment center (full of the DVDs), our XBox 360, a PS2, the video games, my husband’s camera, our laundry basket (to carry things, but SO ANNOYING), and our dog’s favorite squeaky toy (WHO DOES THAT??). Here’s what I learned:

    The police will do absolutely nothing, even if you practically hand the robbers over to them. A couple weeks after the robbery, someone started using our XBox…including my XBox Live account! They changed the cartoon avatar to look like them, they used their name (if anyone knows a Jose Miguel from Largo, FL, that guy is a dick), and if the police had listened to me and gotten the IP address of the user from Microsoft, they could’ve been there in a second. Instead, they claimed they subpoenaed it and “No one was using that account.” Ahem, as I was like “Actually, he just registered a new game to my account, which sent me a confirmation email.” I sent screenshots, and the police wouldn’t even acknowledge my calls. Microsoft…well, once I finally got someone on the phone who knew what an IP address was, they told me to go to a friend’s house, create a fake XBox Live account (at my expense), befriend the person who was using my account, and TRICK THEM INTO TELLING ME THEIR IP ADDRESS AND/OR INTERNET PROVIDER. *boggle*

    Insurance may not cover your loss, even with detailed records. We called ours the next day and were told that, because of the types of items stolen, we couldn’t file a claim. DVDs are replaced at depreciated value, so the $20 movie my husband had bought me two months before had a replacement value of about $2. It probably would’ve cost us $3500 to replace everything (which we still haven’t been able to do), but with a $3000 insurance deductible, we couldn’t qualify to get anything back. AND they told us if we tried to file a claim, our insurance could drop us, and likely would. *double boggle*

    We have three cats and a (small) dog. The dog was freaked out but inside, but all three cats were running around the back yard like maniacs. They didn’t leave, but they very well could have. (Then I would’ve really been out for blood.)

    The feeling of violation was way worse than the stuff they took (though my husband might disagree about his missing camera). They went through my underwear drawer! They saw my…you know, that drawer in your nightstand that you don’t show other people. After we were robbed, we spent every day staring at the gaping hole in our entertainment center where that drawer used to be (and the fingerprint powder that was ALL OVER our house, to no effect). The day we finally caved in and got a cheapy new TV stand from IKEA was the best day ever. Well, aside the day that we put in a huge, fancy, state-of-the-art alarm system, along with all new heavy-duty locks on our doors. I still have nightmares about being robbed again, but at least it isn’t on my mind constantly.

  20. Thank you for this article because as much as I know we need to make a list of everything in the house I’m going to take pictures of everything this weekend and put it in my parents safe. I also wanted to ad if you have important paperwork without your SSN keep it in someone elses safe. My parents have a giant gun safe so I would imagine nobody is stealing that unless they are giants.

    In my old apartment (which someone was JUST robbed by the way) I had a security bar that went under the door handle so even if someone got the lock open they wouldn’t be able to open the door. Funny story – the boyfriend (now husband) left for the night and forgot something. A few minutes after he left he tried to get back in with the key and couldn’t open the door due to the bar. I hit him so hard for not calling and let me know because I was so scared that someone saw him leave and saw it as their opportunity. On the good side, he still couldn’t get the door open. It was made by masterlock I think.

  21. question. if a home gets broken into and its not trashed in any way and is actually left to look like nothing had happened with only one room being broken into on the second floor of the house and out of alot of very expensive electronics, guns, jewelry, and even large amounts of cash left behind only for an huge amount of money being stolen, keep in mind nothing was broken or thrown around. what are the odds of a random robber coming equiped to a second story house with a ladder to break into one specific room to steal one thing to it being someone that knew about the money and the location of the house and the room in which the money was in? I want an unbiased perspective of this type of situation.

  22. We were robbed midday between 11am and noon. They took the macbook, iPads, ps4, gaming headset and ALL my jewelry from real to costume. We live in nice neighborhood and sadly my dog had just passed away a month before. We own a single level home. No dog present, no alarm or alarm stickers on windows (which might deter even if you don’t have actual alarm in place) and no cameras. I felt so violated when I came home from my errands. It’s a horrible feeling. Although many neighbors caught a black BMW 3-series on camera no one can make our plate. There were 4 burglaries in the area that day and the police have nothing so far…..very frustrating. I’m going to look on the bright side because in the end it was just stuff and one was injured. We now have cameras we purchased at Costco and had them professionally installed. We bought the Night Owl system and it was around $350 and well worth it. You can download the app on your phone and view. I feel much better now and we will be getting another minature schnauzer as they are such great little watchdogs.

  23. I’m sorry that you and others who posted here were robbed. I know how bad that feels.

    It happened to me and my husband two days ago but in our van rather than our home. After we parked in front of our house around 8:30 PM, we were robbed at gunpoint. Two men with guns came up on both sides of our van, and we had no idea they were there until we opened our doors to get out.

    The hooded man on my side, an African American who was about 20-years-old, wrenched the passenger door open and pointed a gun at my face. He yelled, “Give me your money, or I’ll kill you!”

    The man on the driver’s side held a gun in my husband’s face and demanded his wallet.

    In shock, I kicked at the man on my side, trying to force him away. Around the same time, my husband set off the van’s security alarm. Amid this repetitive blaring, the thief on my side shot the gun but missed me, then he said again,”Give me your money or I’ll kill you!”

    Afraid he meant business and would kill us if I didn’t comply, I threw my purse at him and said, “There. You have it. Now leave!”

    After gazing at me dumbly for a moment, he rushed down the street. When the other thief dashed after him, I ran inside to call the police.

    I lost my credit cards, checkbooks, ID, prescription medicine, cash, many personal items, and, of course, my designer purse. Normally, I don’t carry money but I had some this year to give to my kids for Christmas. It has been heavy in my heart that these thugs got my kids’ Christmas gift. I was really into the holidays this year until this happened. Now I could care less about any of it.

    Everyone keeps telling me that we’re lucky to be alive. I know that’s true, and we’re lucky that we weren’t seriously injured, but it’s hard to feel “lucky” right now. Maybe I’ll have a greater appreciation of that once I get past the shock, fear, and despair. Right now, I feel like I’m constantly replaying the event in my mind, and I’m listening to every creak, studying every shadow, terrified that these men will return.

    We don’t know if it was random or planned. We believe they may have seen us leave and waited for us.

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