Beware the atypical Christmas shopping spree

This time of year, there are opportunists presumably looking to do their Christmas “shopping” in as economical a way possible. I had some packages stolen off my front porch early one evening last week. So, I thought this would be a good occasion to recommend that, at least during this holiday season, you have your packages delivered somewhere they won’t sit openly unattended. I’ve since had my online purchases re-routed to my workplace and will be requesting that any packages sent by friends and family members from afar also make their way to my office. Your packages may not contain anything of monetary value or items easily pawned, but a thief doesn’t know or care what’s in the box until he’s opened it up. Besides, even the most ordinary stolen items (for example, pots and pans or clothing) make perfectly fine gifts for those who don’t know how they were obtained.

Robbers are back!

We got robbed today. And just as I was thinking we’d had a good track record (almost 7 years in this house/hood and no home invasion)! I feel disillusioned, depressed, mad, and just plain violated. I have always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt, but suddenly, it’s hard to do that. It doesn’t help that I have been feeling weird the last week or so, like something was about to happen. I even told neighbors and coworkers about those people who’d been casing and robbing homes earlier in the year. Last week, for the first time ever, I asked my neighbor to keep an eye on the house when I saw someone acting “suspicious” in front of my house as I was leaving for work. I’ve never felt unsafe or vulnerable in this neighborhood. And then, I started feeling on edge recently and I am so sad to say it was for good reason.

Two days ago, I found a neighbor kid and his friend heading into our backyard through the side gate at 11:40pm at night, supposedly looking for a lost cat. I remembered what I’d read on this board about people knocking on doors to case homes, their scam about looking for a lost dog, and was less than fully accepting of their reason for being in my yard, but then one of the kids came back a few minutes later with a kitten in tow. So, I introduced myself and pretty much apologized for my reaction (“who are you and what are you doing here??”) instead of calling the cops. I don’t know if it was those same kids and probably will never know, but it seems the most obvious explanation. I think it’s pretty telling that whoever robbed us threw a rock really hard into the basement window closest to the side gate (despite its small size) rather than taking an easier approach.

The robbers took electronics, including our projector (the priciest item in our house) and our Xbox 360, and trashed the house in the process. I’m grateful our dogs weren’t harmed, but now I’m worried the robbers will be back for more or that we’ll be subject to identity theft. Papers were strewn about, including our tax returns. I don’t know if they took my passport or social security card or if those have just been misplaced. Likely the latter. They dumped my jewelry out of the cases, but I don’t own anything valuable, so it appears they took none of it. They did take our glass milk bottle full of change, but not the Euros we had lying around, so maybe it’s not the same robbers who were trolling the hood back in May…

The cops came after just twenty minutes or so. They listened to my story, wrote down what was stolen, and walked around the house with me and my husband. After I insisted they take prints, they did, but I wonder if anything will come of it.

Anyway, I just thought people should be on the lookout and be aware that whoever was doing the break-ins earlier in the year is probably out of jail and back on the prowl. The neighbors were home most of the day and said they didn’t notice anything strange, though whoever broke in did so on the other side of the house… By the way, we have dogs and that wasn’t much of a deterrent. The people who broke in gathered up baby gates and dumped both dog food and people food from the fridge (which they left open) onto the floor. I have no idea how long they were here, but I think they must have come earlier in the day because the ice in the freezer had melted quite a bit and some water had even pooled outside the open freezer door.

I’m exhausted. I don’t want to leave my house or my neighborhood, but it’s sad when neighbors who’ve been here even longer say they’re sick of it and are itching to leave. I know this could happen in any neighborhood, but I wonder if we’re setting ourselves up for more heartache by sticking around.

Update (at Rob’s request): I live near MLK and Union (yay, farmers’ market!), though that shouldn’t stop anyone from thinking that they won’t get hit if they’re not near here. I’m the first to admit that I used to think, “Oh, that’s not so near my house. I’m sorry to hear people are having problems over there, but at least I don’t have to worry about it.” I see now how ridiculous my attitude was.