September 15th, 2010



When I lived in my first apartment in downtown Chicago it was on the 3rd floor of an old brownstone with no elevator. We had a stairwell in the front with 2 apartments off each landing and a rickety wooden contraption on the backside that opened off our kitchen and led down to the laundry room and storage rooms in the basement as well as up to the roof access. It doubled as a fire escape but the landing was too small to use as a balcony.

I lived there for a couple of years with various roommates: 2 friends from college and a couple of law students that were friends of theirs. At some point, we discovered that someone had broken into the basement storage rooms and stolen several things. I lost a suitcase, among other things, but nothing of real value and certainly nothing which I felt sentimental about. Still: it was MY stuff, in MY place and a drag.

I don't know how much more likely you are to get robbed in the city compared with the suburbs, in terms of break-ins. I suppose I could google it, but I'm not sure I really want to know the answer. In the space of the couple of years I lived in that apartment, in addition to the break-in in the basement, I also had my car stolen (later found by the lake shore with the driver's window busted in and glass covering the front seats; it had been taken for a joyride, run out of gas and abandoned) and stuff stolen OUT of my car.

THAT one upset and angered me, as the things that were stolen were of NO value whatsoever to anyone else: a set of sea-green linen placemats and napkins from my recently deceased grandmother's home and an oil painting of a tree in autumn leaf I had painted and gifted her with one Christmas. Granted it was a GOOD painting, but still. Worth stealing? Really? I was 12, I think, when I painted it.

Yesterday, Anders was out for a motorcycle ride after work with some of his colleagues and didn't get home until 7:30, long after we had finished dinner. It had been raining, so he hung up his motorcycle suit in the laundry room to dry. He and the kids watched TV for an hour or so while I worked on AWC stuff in the computer room and then I threw the kids in the bath, and we read a chapter of The Hunger Games and they were in bed by 9:30. I followed soon after around 10:30.

Anders got ready for bed around 11:30 and as is his habit, went around the house checking doors and windows and turning off the last of the lights, only when he got to the laundry room, he realized the door was slightly open and there was a very strong smell of stale cigarette smoke. And his motorcycle suit was no longer hanging where he had put it. He came and woke me up and asked me if I had moved it; hung it somewhere else, perhaps? "No," I replied groggily and then was wide awake when he said, "Someone's been in the house. It's gone and the door was open."

The side door wasn't locked; it rarely is when we're home...we've been 8 years in this house and 4.5 in the one before and there have rarely been any incidents at all in our village. So someone, trying doors and peering around the darkened side of the house to check on our positions, got lucky. We didn't hear a thing and we were only a room away.

We called the police who sent a car over right away and 2 very nice (and very LARGE) policemen took down our report and gave us advice on what to do next. His motorcycle keys were missing and his house keys. This morning we discovered Martin's school backpack and HIS house keys were missing as well. Because the house keys had been stolen, which are also the keys for the garage, neither one of us slept very well. Anders brought his race bike inside and we put chairs and wooden posts under the door handles, just to be on the safe side.

This morning, Anders called the insurance company and reported the break-in and it turns out we won't have much to pay even for the deductible, and arranged for a locksmith. I drove Martin and his classmate into town and dropped them off at school while he was on the phone, and then I came back and worked from home, since the locksmith wasn't going to get to our place until later in the day and we didn't want the house empty or Karin home alone in the afternoon. It's not so much that they took things, because the most important thing they took was our peace of mind.

The locksmith came around 4 and now all the locks have been replaced and we have a new lock-the-doors family policy in place and we're getting a new motion detector light tomorrow for the side door. And I think I'll go get one of the surveillance security cameras MY OWN COMPANY SELLS as well.

A Veritable Plethora of Belated Birthday Wishes to lady_findel, orangepoppy and e11en!

*Title from a quote by Elias Canetti

(Drop cap courtesy of Jessica Hische's Daily Drop Cap)