Sunday, December 9, 2012

Didn't have to come and confess, we were lookin' for you, and we found you...

Instead of finishing either of the papers that I have due this week, or studying for either of the tests that I have this week, or sleeping to get rid of the disgusting cold/sinus infection that I got from somewhere (which is the real reason I can't focus on anything important that requires actual thought...), I decided that now was a good time to write the post that I'd been meaning to write about the burglary of my house.

Before I get into it, I wanted to say that I find it very interesting that, as I have come forward with my story about being burglarized, people have confided to me that their homes have also been broken into at some point in their lives.  At first, I was embarrassed that this had happened, but then it soon became apparent that all of us have been robbed at some point, and that this can happen to anyone, anywhere, no matter what city you're in, or what part of a city you happen to be in.  Hell, you don't even have to be in a city per se!  We are all at risk.

It was a Monday in late October.  I went to work and went through my usual insane Monday schedule.  I took the 5:15 bus home because I was tired and did not feel like walking and just wanted to get home and have dinner.  I finally reached my doorstep, and put my key in the door to unlock it, when I realized that something was not right.  The deadbolt was not locked.  I had locked it on my way out in the morning.

I opened the door and stood in the doorway.  I had just cleaned the first floor of the house over the weekend, so when I looked inside, it was easy for me to tell that something was wrong.  The curtain on my TV unit was open.  A tote bag was on my couch.  I looked into the kitchen, and I saw that the blinds were disheveled, and my air conditioning unit was pushed forward.  FUCK. Some motherfucker came into the house while I was gone!

I went to the laundry room and saw that the back door had been opened.  When I got outside, there was a hammer on the ground, and I saw that someone had used my patio furniture and a defunct DirecTV dish to push in the air conditioner and climb in through the window.

"Saved by the Weave"

I made my way back inside, and locked everything behind me.  I went back to the TV unit and saw that my XBox, a bunch of games, and my Nintendo DS, were missing.  However, the burglar left me the controllers, and he also left me my BOSE speakers and TV set.  I guess bose and flat screens are passe?  Really, I think the speakers were "saved by the weave" - the wig from my Halloween costume had been draped over it.

I made my way upstairs.  I saw that my roommate's door was open, but I had no way of knowing if there was anything missing from her room.  I then went down the hall to my room.  Immediately I saw that it had been hit hard.  I found that the burglar had gone through the mess in my room and took out my jewelry box and placed it on my bed.  He also used my king sized pillow case as a sack to put items in.  Both my laptops were gone, both of my digital cameras were gone, and he had gone through my jewelry, which was a collection of mine and my mom's belongings.

I was fortunate that my backup hard drive was spared - had that been taken, I would have lost family photos that would not have been recoverable.  Amusingly enough, I stored the drive with items that I purchase at ladies "tupperware" parties.  It was clear that the burglar opened the drawer, and was immediately deterred by the contents (I can't believe he was desperate/dumb enough to open the nightstand drawer in a woman's room).  This is precisely why I store my backup hard drive here.  I call this a broke-girl safe.

I called the cops.  It took about 2.5 hours and four follow-up calls for them to get to me.  It's a good thing that I didn't need urgent help or anything.  Upon talking to other people, I realized that this is fairly common for the area I live in.

I'll spare further details, mainly to avoid making this story longer than it needs to be for you, but I will say that my dinner that night wound up being off-brand Cheez-Its from Wal-Mart, my roommate told me that the first thing that went through her mind after I called to tell her we'd been robbed was that "Well, Jamie has a lot of stuff, anyway" (WTF), and when I finally sat down to relax, I noticed that my canvas tote bag that I had seen on the couch when I walked in had been filled with bottles of my own alcohol...the burglar tried to steal my booze and forgot it on the way out (HOW DARE HE TRY TO TAKE MY SEAGRAM'S 7.  BASTARD.)! The police report was filed and the officer who came to take it told me that I should "Just take this as a loss."

If you haven't figured me out by now, the first thing that went through my mind when the officer said that was "OH HELL NO!"

I took some time to be upset and try and clean up and move what was left of mine and my mom's jewelry to another location.  Fortunately this burglar was mentally challenged and left a good portion of stuff, though he did take some of the most valuable items I had.  

Then, I had a thought.  (Well, I had many thoughts, but this one was the most useful).

Most people who burglarize people's houses for electronics and jewelry are looking for quick cash.  My electronics were valuable to me because I could not afford the cost to replace them, they still worked perfectly well and had sentimental value.  It is debatable whether this person made out with any sizeable cash for these items, especially considering he left the power cord for one of the computers, and the charger for one of the cameras.  Most of the jewelry he took, however, was valuable, both monetarily and sentimentally speaking.  I was particularly sore about a necklace that my mom had given me for my 15th birthday, which meant a lot to me, and had substantial monetary value.

I live within a mile radius of various pawn shops.  I decided that I would do a tour of these pawn shops to see what I could find.

I got in my car and drove to the farthest of the pawn shops.  When I got there, I told them that I had been robbed and was looking for some items.  The attendant asked me to make a list for him.  But when I gave him the list, the response was: we don't take sterling silver, we don't take white gold, we don't take cameras fewer than 16 MP, we don't take laptops...

I left a phone number for him to call in case any of these items came to him, but I was disheartened. What do these places take then?  I hopped in my car and started to drive home.  I was almost there, when something told me that I should just go to another shop.  It was a nagging feeling - just nagging enough that I decided to turn around and go to the next pawn shop.

I parked my car near the next store and fed the meter.  As I made my way to the store entrance, I couldn't help but notice how many people were outside walking around, chillin' at 1pm on a regular business day.  I arrived at the shop, and was let in by the attendant.  There was an officer inside the store, conversing with the attendant.  The attendant turned out to be the store owner.  He asked if I needed help.  I told him that my house was robbed, a large quantity of jewelry had been stolen, and I was wondering if anyone might have brought items to him in the last couple of days.  He asked me to start describing items that I was missing.

I started with the necklace that I had gotten for my 15th birthday.  Not only was it the most monetarily valuable piece to the robber, but it was the most distinctive piece.  I didn't even get a chance to finish describing the piece when the owner said: "I think I may have what you are looking for." Honestly, I was a bit incredulous.  A part of me was expecting to go on this tour of the pawn shops and come home empty handed.  The owner walked to the back of the store to another room.  He emerged moments later...with MY necklace in his hand!

I immediately recognized it and said "That's MY necklace, that's it!"

I asked if the person who had brought the necklace had brought anything else with them.  He went to the back and brought me a pendant from another one of my necklaces, a piece of a chain broken from another necklace, as well as some jewelry that was not gold, precious metal, or precious gemstone.

I did have to pay to recover my items, which is what the cops typically will recommend if you want to guarantee getting your stuff back (otherwise it gets put into evidence, and you still may never see your stuff again), but the shop also had the address of the person who brought it in.  He told me that I was very lucky to have found my items: apparently, some pawn shops will not admit that someone brought items that fit a description of something you are missing, or they will melt things down right away - by the time you get there, your stuff may not even exist anymore.  With jewelry, it can be difficult to tell if something is stolen or purchased unless items have been etched with some kind of identifying information, and it can be hard to prove that something is yours unless you have photographic evidence.  Most people don't just have individual photos of all their jewelry.

I wasn't about to go out of my way to make a scene at the police department, mainly because I've been through enough, and after what the cop who came to the house had said, I was not really sure that the police were willing to pursue this.  However, a detective ended up stopping by and leaving contact information.  I was able to get in contact with this detective who had been assigned to my case.  He, by phone, started to ask me questions about the burglary.  I stopped him, and told him that I had gone to the pawn shop and I had information about who may have committed the crime.  He was at my house within the hour, and we went back to the pawn shop to make a copy of the slip with the suspect's address.  The search warrant was made and carried out the next morning.

After the events of the search warrant, law enforcement found his actual residence  - the address on the slip was an old address where he no longer resides. The current resident was tired of the suspect continuing to use that address on documents - apparently this was not the first visit they had received from law enforcement.   The warrant crew went to the actual residence and performed a search.  They found three items of mine, as well as some items belonging to a neighbor, who was also robbed a few days after I was.

After this, an arrest warrant was placed for the suspect.  In the meantime, the detective told me to keep in touch and follow up on developments.

Some weeks passed, and there was no sign of the suspect.  But they were looking for him. I continued following up.

Finally, I got a text from the detective with good news about the case!  They arrested the suspect!  The warrant crew went to pay him a morning visit - and they caught and arrested him as he was about to "get busy" with a "lady".  Talk about a cockblock followed by a walk of shame!  I would hate to be the woman who decided to go home with a guy only to discover that he was a fugitive when the police came to arrest him in the morning.  WOW.  I wouldn't be shocked if the suspect never thought he would get caught.

But to quote the great Antoine Dodson: "You don't have to come and confess, we lookin' for you we gon' find you.  So you can run and tell that, HOMEBOY....We don't run around cryin' and actin' sad, we just dust our shoulders off and keep on movin'."

(*I have renter's insurance - it was a good investment.)


  1. This is quite the story. I'm glad you got your necklace back. And kicked some butt :)

  2. Sweet, sweet justice. Well done, Jamie!