on being burgled

Posted on February 7, 2013

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Yes, “burgled” is a word.

I didn’t want last weekend to happen in the first place. I was still recovering from the weekend before that, which had consisted of three consecutive nights of drinking in excess (a networking happy hour – in which no networking was actually done; a goodbye party for a friend embarking on an adventure; and Edgar’s “welcome to Seattle” party), and a week that consisted of two interviews, several client meetings and a whirlwind day-trip to San Francisco and back again. “It’s too SOON for another weekend!” I cried on Friday morning.  I was in charge of hosting a wine night on that night and then celebrating the 30th birthday of a friend on Saturday- both of which were manageable but only because the rest of my weekend plans were to watch television, cook and clean.

Wine night ended up being lovely (I made six different pizzas and the company was great), but things started to unravel on Saturday. Our best-laid birthday plans went awry and it was a scramble to reshape them into something celebratory given that airplanes were late, dogs had been attacked, fathers were in town and I was cranky. Somehow we managed to pull it together and have a pretty nice evening at Hale’s Ales and the Burgundian, and things looked even better by the time we reached The Little Red Hen and found a guy who was willing to buy everyone in our group multiple rounds of drinks. How generous!

And then, at 10:30pm I noticed that I had several missed calls from my next door neighbor. I darted out the back door of the bar to return her call in which she informed me that the front door of my apartment was wide open, my television was gone and my house was ransacked.

I immediately turned to go back into the bar only to discover that I had left through an emergency exit and was subsequently locked out, so I ran around the block, elbowed my way past the line of people waiting to get in the bar, flashed my hand stamp at the bouncer, yelled to my friends that I’d been robbed (that was before I knew the difference between robbery and burglary), grabbed my stuff and ran back out to catch an Uber and find out what damage had been done.

At first glance, it appeared that my television had perhaps been the only stolen property, especially because my laptop was still sitting on my bed (albiet it had been closed and was upside down). I immediately pulled back my bed to find out if the iPad that I had let slide between my headboard and mattress that morning was still there. Thankfully, it was – for once, laziness actually worked in my favor.

Then, as I turned around it was obvious that though my two most prized and essential pieces of technology had survived, my entire jewelry collection (save a few pieces) had gone missing, as had the purse collection on my closet shelf, a basket full of business cards, gift cards and my social security card and all of my power cords for my electronics. My roommate faced similar destruction – her work laptop was taken as well as all of her jewelry and her laundry basket, which the thieves had emptied and used to fill with their loot. God knows what else they found in our drawers – all had been pulled out and obviously rifled through – I’m sure it will take months to figure out what they took.

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the drawings i submitted for my police report

I detailed what exactly to do when your house is burglarized over on my Seattle blog, but over here I thought I might talk a bit about how being burglarized is not only traumatic, but how in our case, has also set off a series of unfortunate events that make me feel like I might be starring in my own version of Groundhog’s Day – which just so happened to be the day we were robbed.

We were pretty upset about the next day. Our neighbors kept coming over to check up on us and rehash the events of the night – they’d all been home when the burglary occurred and were rightfully freaked out. They’re all smokers and dog owners and somehow the burglars managed to time their trip well because apparently no one needed to let the dog out or to have a cigarette between the hours of 7:30 and 10:30pm.

My roommate decided to cope with her rage by going to the gym and the grocery store to pick up a few items to make Oreo cookies for a Superbowl party she didn’t really want to go to, but since we couldn’t watch TV, there wasn’t much else to do. And cooking always makes me feel better and so of course I agreed to help her… but that’s when things started to go completely downhill – which shouldn’t really have been possible.

While checking out at the grocery store, she discovered that she had somehow lost her debit card the night before when she had carelessly thrown it back into her purse but not put it directly in her wallet. Losing one’s credit and debit card is stressful enough – but on top of being burgled? (yes it’s a word) – it sent her over the edge.

I, on the other hand, was feeling like I had come out on the better end of things, having really only lost my jewelry and television – UNTIL – just moments before Beyonce’s halftime show – I got a call from the Wells Fargo credit card fraud department.

Insert ominous music here.

The thieves had somehow managed to grab a debit card that I literally didn’t know that I still had or that was linked to my account and went on a shopping spree in Marysville, WA. They hit up 7-11, Wendy’s, Fred Meyer and Wal-Mart, and completely drained my bank account. They also attempted to shop at Nordstrom in Seattle (read about why this is significant).

So not only did the burglars steal my STUFF, they prevented me from being able to replace it in a timely manner because they took all my money as well – it was supposed to take 3-5 days for my fraud claim to be processed and in the meantime, I needed to cancel all of my bank account information – credit cards, checking account, savings account – the works.

I went to the bank the next morning and cancelled it all, and withdrew the like, $100 that I still had and went over to City Target to buy myself a new power adapter for my laptop. I was literally paralyzed without access to my computer (but thank god I still had one!) – I just started a new contract that is extremely time-sensitive, I have been waiting to hear back about a second contract AND I had an interview for a third – and no way to communicate other than my phone (which had a cracked screen, by the way).

I purchased an $87 “universal adapter” with seven different plugs that made it compatible with a whole long list of different computers. It turns out that “universal” is a subjective term, because when I opened it the next morning, not one of them worked with my Samsung laptop.

Day destroyed (I’d needed to prep for an interview, which I had to reschedule), I headed up to the Northgate Target to return it, get my money back and then purchase the correct one at Best Buy. Imagine my utter dismay when Target would NOT give me money back in any form except a gift card. I almost lost it – I needed cash to buy a new adapter.

Then, I checked my (new) bank account and I had more money than I had anticipated, leading me to believe that the fraudulent charges had already been reversed. Hallelujah! I marched down to Best Buy and got the correct adapter and ordered a new phone while I was at it.

I was back in the game. Or so I thought.

I had also had to go through the process of getting a cashier’s check to pay my rent to my landlords, since I don’t have new checks yet. With my new bank account balance in mind, I went and got the check, congratulated myself on having overcome that particular obstacle and went about my merry way… until today when I received an overdraft notice via email and discovered that the Fred Meyer fraudulent charge had cleared my account and I was charged an additional $35 fee, catapulting me into the red zone, and I’m not talking about football.

Will this ever end?

My roommate, for her part, has taken it upon herself to find her missing laptop. We’re assuming that the cops have better things to do, but I’m pretty sure that if you could give me access to the security footage at 7-11, Wal-Mart, Wendy’s and Fred Meyer I could find the jackasses who stole my debit card. She had some pretty specific software on her computer and it’s making her feel better to be pursuing justice, though if she actually DID find her computer I’m not entirely sure what she would do.

Her boyfriend loaned us a television that is mercifully the same as mine (meaning that we didn’t have to reprogram our remote). It’s just a decade older and cuts out when you have it on HD channels and that I can tolerate. But then the batteries on the remote died and I cried for a couple minutes because that was just one more thing. She got a new loaner computer at work which won’t show a video she needs to watch for school, and then she got a parking ticket, so the insults just keep adding to her injuries.

Neither of us have access to any money (she cancelled all of her accounts too, so we’re both waiting for new cards, checks, etc), we have no jewelry, we have no real evidence that our crime is being solved and we both have an incredible amount of work that is piling up behind us because WE WERE ROBBED and there’s the emotional trauma that comes with that too.

I don’t really know how to describe how I FEEL about all of this. I understand VERY clearly that it could have been worse. They could have stolen my laptop, which would have ruined my business. I wouldn’t have been able to replace it because they also stole my money. My cat could have escaped through the open door and never been seen again. They could have taken my iPad, which was a gift from a client and only saved thanks to my laziness. We could have been home when it all happened – adding a whole new level of terror to this experience.

But in the end I don’t feel unsafe in my apartment. I don’t particularly like BEING here right now because I’m sad, but it’s not like I need to stay anywhere else. I don’t want them to come back for the things they left behind, so I’m super diligent about locking doors and windows and always leaving a light on, which I am sure will do wonders for our power bill (not to mention I feel guilty about using too much energy – but we’re talking safety here, right?). I’ve noticed subtle differences in how I treat my stuff – I have taken to sort of hiding things from view, which has been super confusing when I can’t find it in the morning – and of course I immediately think we’ve been robbed again.

While I’m also hyper-aware of myself, my possessions and surroundings, I’ve also become a bit of a space cadet because I’m distracted. I forgot to get off the bus today and went two stops too far. I left a folder of SUPER important information about my new bank accounts on the counter at the bank.

The other thing that I’d like to mention – and I’m quite sure that none of you have made it this far in the post, so I’m just saying this for myself – is that it’s particularly interesting to hear what everyone thinks should happen to the criminals, if and when they’re brought to justice. Lots of people want to beat them up and lock them up. I, on the other hand, would like to sit them down, tell them all about how they’ve basically ruined my life (I assume they’re about steal my identity too, by the way. If they don’t, then I’ll just tell them this long sad story about how crappy this week has been and what the consequences have been, for me) and then I personally would sentence them to 30,000 hours of community service so that they can make the world a better place. Obviously, it’s the restorative justice background in me that embraces the idea of sitting them down and having a conversation, rather than tossing them in jail because there are no good lessons to be learned in a place like that. I’d thank them for not hurting me, my roommate or Mozel, and ask them what they think their punishment should be. I’m sure they won’t be able to reproduce my jewelry collection or personal documents, but maybe they can put some good out in the world to counteract their bad – and hopefully, for their sake, before karma comes to get them.

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