About a month ago, I

by francine Hardaway on August 19, 2005

About a month ago, I was robbed, or more accurately, burgled (robbed is when you are home when the invaders appear, and I was at the dentist). Cruel joke to be burgled when you are already at the dentist�it�s like adding insult to injury.

From what I can tell, a bunch of guys came in through my back alley in early afternoon, opened my back sliding door, entered the house despite the presence of the dogs (one a chow) and started carting things away. They must have brought a can of tuna with them; the chow loves tuna.

The burglars took both my LCD TVs because they were easy to carry and not as heavy as my older TVs, a cell phone that I wasn’t using, my IPOD speakers, my new PC system, and my digital camera — plus some cash I had around the house for emergencies. I guess they considered their needs an emergency.

I must have surprised them in the act by coming home, because when I entered the house my jewelry box was on the stove and my pearls were spread out on my bed, but none of my jewelry was gone. It was almost as though they were sorting to see if any of it was really valuable. If so, they made some pretty bad guesses.

They had also dumped all my clothes out of my drawers, and left my underwear lying on my bedroom floor. Of all the things they did, that was the worst; my underwear was in no condition to be seen in public. If nothing else, the burglary prompted me to buy some new underwear.

When I arrived home and saw that my living room TV was missing, I freaked. I realized immediately what had happened, because my dining room furniture was in disarray; the thieves had run through the dining room with the 50″ LCD on their way out the back door. It�s a tight space.

I called the police, and as I waited for them to arrive, I ran around the house; the list of missing items kept growing.

But as it turns out, they took almost nothing of “value” to me. All my tech toys are fungible and insurable. Beyond the cash, which I would have spent on dinners at Houston’s, the worst loss was a bedspread made of old silk saris that came from India. That was irreplaceable. And unless the burglars had better taste than I give them credit for, they only took the bedspread to wrap the TVs. They also took the down comforter off another bed. Since it was about 114 degrees on the day of the robbery, I doubt they were cold.

Being burgled is not about the material things you lose. I was over losing them in half an hour. It is about the disruption and invasion when you find out someone has been in your home while you have been out, searching through things and helping himself to things you thought were yours privately. It�s about violation of privacy.

It is also about feelings of vulnerability: if I�m not safe in my own home, protected by a chow, where can I be safe? If I can�t control the narrowest of environments, how will I control the outside world?

And it is about trust. The lengths to which I will go to prevent another robbery are similar in perspective to the ones to which we are now asked to go in preventing terrorist attacks. We have to be vigilant. Vigilant in the subway, vigilant at traffic signals, vigilant even in our own homes.

Who was watching my home so they could rob me? Whom can I no longer trust? Quite frankly, I don�t want to know.

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