Sunday, 21 March 2010

Bungling and Burglary

Some time in the wee small hours of Friday morning, March 19th we were robbed. I can’t even say our house was broken into because we have to admit that we carelessly, accidentally, left the back door unlocked. Of course you know when I say “we” I really mean Robbie (!) since he was the last one up the stairs that night but even he will hold his hands up and admit that “as the man of the house it’s my job to make sure the doors are locked before I go to bed at night” but I’m trying to be kind!

For those of you who don’t know my dear husband I’ve always described him as the “absent-minded professor” because he fits that description to a T! I think his brain usually has 9000 things going on at once and he tends to shift focus from one thing to another and then forgets what he was originally doing, etc. He also tends to stuff everything and anything in his pockets and walks along looking like Captain Kangaroo. My job has usually been to try and keep him focused, try to keep a semblance of organization and follow behind and tidy up after him—a job which I usually resent! Oh, did I say he was very messy? Most times with these three jobs I throw up my hands and just say, “I give up” and let him be untidy and cluttered, just as long as he keeps it on his side of the room. His method of organization is to stuff things in different plastic sacks and carry those around with him as needed. I think he’d make a great hobo except he doesn’t really like to travel! His favorite method of getting ready for bed is to drop his trousers (with everything still in the pockets) along with the rest of his clothes by his side of the bed and then get into his pajamas. Never mind that the clothes basket is no more than 10 steps away....

Now that you know all the relevant facts I’ll try to tell the story of our burglary the way it happened, as best I can:

I was awakened around 6:30 that morning by Robbie feeling around at my feet in the bed. When I asked him what he was doing he said, “You’re going to think I’m crazy but I can’t find my trousers” (actually it sounds more like, “Ye’re gonne think ah’m daft but ah canne find mah troosers” but I digress...). Grumbling, grumpily I got up (did I tell you I’m NOT a morning person?) and asked, “Where did you take them off?” “I don’t remember.” “Aren’t they over there on the floor?” “No, they’re not here and I have to find them because my wallet and my work badge is in them.” So I started to try to remember what we had done the night before while getting ready for bed. I couldn’t remember him getting undressed either. Between us we eventually looked all over the bedroom (even looking in the clothes basket in the off chance that that would be the last place he’d put them), all through the spare room because he sometimes gets dressed in there so as not to disturb me, and in the bathroom (I even looked in the tub behind the shower curtain—well, you never know). That took care of the upstairs and I started looking again while he went downstairs.

We looked all over the house eventually, even in unlikely places (Robbie looked in the fridge at one point) and his trousers were nowhere to be seen. He then informed me that the back door was open—not open but unlocked—and he must have forgotten to lock it the night before. By this time we were getting suspicious but didn’t want to actually believe that someone had stolen his trousers—or that he had taken them off downstairs!

Looking around again, Robbie pointed out to me, what he called a “biscuit tin” but what is really just a ceramic jar (like a small cookie jar) I’ve had forever that sits on the kitchen table for decoration. We never have put anything in it, we never touch it but it was there on the table with the top off. In front of it were two boxes, one of chocolates and one of cookies that we had gotten for Christmas. They were disturbed too because I had left them on top of each other. When I saw that, I knew that neither one of us had moved or touched them, therefore someone else had been in the house! Having that confirmation and shock we started looking around for other things that might be missing. The big, obvious things of value were still there: the TV, the DVD player, the DVDs, my plates, our silver quaichs etc. and the knives were still in the kitchen.

What was taken were Robbie’s trousers (old ones he was about to throw out) and what was in the pockets: his wallet (he had no cash in it, a lot of trash and receipts that should have been tossed, credit cards that has been stopped since last summer when he was out of work and his debit card which he immediately cancelled), his work badge (that only gives him access to the computer not the building), his driver’s license which he will have to replace at a cost of £20. The good thing about that, though, is that over here the license comes in two parts, a picture part which was in his wallet and a paper card that shows that you are entitled to drive which he still has so he can still drive legally. He also had an asthma inhaler he didn’t like and can always replace if he needed to, some spare change which he reckons didn’t equal much more than ₤1, and his car keys.

Now the loss of the car keys is the most worry because now he will either have to have the locks changed on the car or get one of those steering wheel lock things or something else. The car was still in the driveway when we went out and looked but this weekend he’s had to park it at night in various places (his auntie’s and his brother’s) rather than our driveway or around here. Also on his trousers was an Armani belt his brother brought him back from Thailand. As nice as it was, and as much as he appreciated the gift, it never fit him quite right and he never really liked it much but the police thought that this might be something they could use to possibly find the culprit(s) if an Armani belt ever turned up in Fauldhouse.
As for me, they came into the living room and went through my handbag that’s always next to the chair and found the £10 I had hidden in my organizer but didn’t take my credit card (which was also closed last summer) or the debit card from my shared account in Virginia or my Virginia driver’s license. I know they were in my purse because all my little cosmetic cases, one of which just has medical supplies and some Kleenex were unzipped but put back neatly in the purse. Now what woman would unzip a cosmetic bag and then put it back open? We all know that everything would fall out! Luckily, my passport is still in the hands of the Home Office Borders Agency in pursuit of my visa.

Other than those things they also took my mobile phone. Now just that day—or really the day before—Thursday, I had dropped it and broken it. It had been broken really for a couple of months when a little piece of the flip part had broken off and I had to be really careful when I opened it because if the little pin came out it was hard to find it and put it all back together again. But when I dropped it Thursday, not only did the pin fly out and end up somewhere behind the computer, I did something to the screen because it would come on but be blank. So the phone was no good to me or to anyone who got it. Robbie had torn it apart to see if he could fix it and took out the SIM card to see if he could insert it in his phone so I could see any messages or Tweets. When I went up to bed Thursday night it was still all torn apart on the counter. They didn’t take the SIM card however so I can insert my info, possibly, into another phone. One other thing we discovered they had taken was a small flashlight we keep by the back door for emergencies.

So, all in all, they didn’t take anything we’ll miss or can’t replace. Robbie was unhappy that he had to take a day off work. He didn’t want to call the police at first because he was embarrassed but I pointed out that even though we wouldn’t get any benefit out of calling them there might be something we could tell them or something similar with our experience to some other one that might help them in the just never know, some common denominator we don’t know about. Robert actually said he was glad it was a theft in a way and he’s not losing his mind not being able to find his trousers! We were good citizens but had to wait all day for them to come out. When Robbie first called they said there had been a major incident and they might be delayed. We knew we’d probably be at the bottom of the list for urgency anyway.

It was a little after 5:00, when we had almost given up, that PC Curtis and PC Gilmore finally arrived. They were very nice young men and we sat down in the living room but I ended up being the one to explain what had happened and do most of the talking! I think Robbie was still a little embarrassed and even though I can be known to go on, I think I can be more succinct than he is! Of course he says it’s because I’m more used to police procedure from all the mysteries I read! Not true! I was thinking all that day and this would be the first time in my whole life I’ve had (or anyone in my family that I know of has had) the police in my house. We showed them around, they looked over the back yard and PC Gilmore even jumped up on our stone wall in the back and climbed over the fence to see what was back there. They were very thorough and took us through the story, wrote down what was taken and took down our details. When they left, though, Robbie grumbled, “They probably think I’m a daft old duffer.” and I patted him on the back and said, “But you are, dear, you are!”  Always try to be a sympathetic wife....

You know you’re old when the policemen are the same age as your children! PC Curtis was interviewing Robbie, getting his statement straight and Robbie mentioned something about going up the stairs and forgetting what you went up for and PC Curtis said, “I do that and I’m only 25.” which is the same age as my Ben! Yikes! Anyway, the whole process was not painful at all and as I said, we were very blessed to not have anything taken we’d miss or couldn’t replace.

They did mention that they would have someone on the crime team come out Saturday and see if there might be a possibility of getting a fingerprint off the door or the “biscuit tin”. The man did come out Saturday morning but wasn’t here more than five minutes. He said since we’d already been in and out the door before and since so it probably wouldn’t be any good to dust the door handle. He dusted the jar but didn’t get anything off it. He speculated that they had just taken the lid off with their fingertips or, as I said, wore gloves. That’s the first time, and God willing, the last time I have to wash fingerprint powder off a possession of mine!

So, with a nod to Garrison Keillor, that’s the news from Fauldhouse...or at least something new to write about. I’m lobbying now for us to get a dog or an alarm system. I think the dog would be nicer! Robbie and I both are pretty heavy sleepers. I’m kind of nervous about the fact that we never heard them come in because our back door is so noisy when it opens or closes. We definitely could use another keener pair of ears. Robbie’s just concerned about the cost of another mouth to feed right now but we’ll see. He’ll love having a dog if/when we ever get one. Happy Spring and everyone keep safe!


  1. Photos in order: 1)Robbie in the new coat he got for his birthday 2)The notorious "biscuit tin" and cookies and chocolates that were disturbed on the kitchen table 3)Our 2 silver quaichs they didn't take 4)Just had to include our small signs of Spring: wee crocus sprouts.

  2. Better than a cozy, now you just have to solve the mystery.

  3. Wow, what a story! How scary to know that someone was in your house and in your bedroom when you were sleeping. So grateful you didn't wake up and startle them. In such a scary situation I am very grateful that it was such small things that were taken. I vote for the dog (as if I had a vote). I miss mine so much. I can understand the added expense but the added love is wonderful too. So glad all is okay, despite the scary incident.

  4. Penny, we thought they might have come in the bedroom but they didn't get further than the living room chair. Robbie had left his trousers downstairs--don't know why!

  5. I should just ship Frosty to you as he flips out if there's any hint of a noise...:P