Author, Teacher, Psychologist and Speaker

A Day to Remember

Posted by on Jun 4, 2012 in Blog, Monday Musing, Uncategorized | 28 comments

Last week, on Memorial Day, I wrote about “A Day of Remembrance.” When that blog posted at 5:00 AM, there was no way to predict that the day would evolve into a day to remember for altogether different reasons.

As I was celebrating with friends about a mile away from my house, for approximately 3 hours, burglars went around to the back of my house, removed a shovel from the garden shed

and shattered the back glass door.

Lanai Door

When I arrived home, pulled into the carport, and got out of my car, I had no awareness that anything was wrong, that there would have been – or might still be – criminals in my home. I was in a great mood, having spent a lovely holiday with friends. I unlocked the door, and as I opened it, I noticed that the freezer and refrigerator doors were wide open. My first thought was “How did raccoons get in the house?” Then I entered through the door and saw the total chaos that only human animals could have caused.

Den

 

 

 

 

Hall Closet

Ann's Room

Susan's Room

Office

 

 

 

 

I have looked at these pictures – and many more – over and over for almost a week now. I need them for evidence, for the police report, and for insurance claims. They don’t seem as scary any more. Not the pictures. But the memory of walking into my home that day is still fresh. The initial shock has worn off some. But the sinking, sickening feeling that strangers were in my house, tossing things around, rifling through my clothing, stealing my valuables and my family treasures, is still with me.

The burglars stole more from me last Monday than electronics, jewelry, and cash. They stole my sense of security. My peace of mind in my home. The psychological effects of burglary are similar to those victims of any assault, rape, or violent attack.  I felt that my home was no longer safe, beautiful, or clean. I have to admit that I now suffer from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

And they stole a week from me so far – a week I was to have gone to the beach, spent writing, relaxing with friends. Instead, this week’s agenda is filled with police reports, investigations – looking at photos of suspects –filing insurance claims, and ordering the chaos.

I must admit, I was one of the “It won’t happen to me” people. I don’t have that much. Don’t live in an affluent neighborhood. I lock my doors. I don’t need an alarm system.  I was wrong.

When I asked one of the investigators if there is a chance they will come back, he said “It happens. Sometimes the thieves wait until the insurance company settles, gets you back your stuff, then they might come back for more.” Comforting.  Now, I have an alarm system. Another cost of this home invasion.

First Alert

Here are some things I have learned the hard way. To protect yourself, your family, and your home:

 

  • Always lock all doors, windows and garages.
  • Make sure home entrances are well-lighted, and minimize bushes where intruders can hide before their ambush. Be aware of the bushes surrounding exterior windows.
  • Keep your house well lit at night to discourage would-be criminals. Have motion detecting flood lights on low-lit areas of your home.
  • Post stickers and alarm signs on the exterior of your home. Statistics show that even fake alarm decals and signs can be a deterrent.
  • Don’t leave heavy objects in the backyard that can be used to throw through windows, particularly patio furniture (or shovels! There is now a lock on the tool shed).
  • Use highly-visible house numbers so that the police can readily identify your home.
  • Lock your gates using a padlock at the least and leave some nice surprises on top of the fence if they think about scaling it.
  • Don’t enter your home if it looks like it’s been illegally entered; leave the premises and call the police.
  • Be aware of the trash you leave on the curb. Break down boxes from recently purchased items like TVs and conceal them from prying eyes.
  • Don’t open the door to solicitors or strangers.
  • Install solid-core doors, heavy-duty locks and window security systems.
  • Upgrade your locks to high security locks. Most household locks are simple to bypass.
  • Get a wide-angle peephole and use it before answering the door, but consider covering it up while not in use.
  • Invest in anti-kick doors or a police lock to prevent brute force entry. A door chain isn’t going to help one bit, even answering the door. If you have one, don’t open it part way to see who is there.
  • At the very least, you should install longer screws into your door jambs and hinges, preferably 3″ screws to prevent criminals from kicking in the door.
  • If you have a spare key hidden, be sure that it is in an uncommon place, or better yet, with a neighbor.
  • Fortify basement windows with bars or anti-break window film. Secure windows where A/C units are attached.
  • Put a dowel rod in the track of your sliding glass door to prevent it from being opened if the lock is bypassed.
  • Get a security alarm with interior motion detectors and set the alarm when you’re at home (obviously not the interior motion detector). Criminals rely on an alarm not being set while someone is home and awake.
  • Insure your alarm is monitored and will continue to work in the event you lose your power in a storm or it happens to be neutralized. Look into cellular monitoring.
  • Keep your cell phone by the bed ready for you or another person to call 911.
  • Change alarm codes often.
  • Record serial numbers of expensive items and have backups of your computer off-site using Dropbox, Carbonite, or iCloud (Apple).
  • Mark and engrave your property with your driver’s license number (not social) to aid in returning your stolen property or discourage theft in the first place.
  • Discuss the importance of home security with everyone in the home. It only takes one person to forget to lock a door or window.
  • Have a plan for your family or roommates in your home in the event of a home invasion. Talk it over and know what each person’s responsibilities are. That plan should include ways to escape the home if necessary.
  • Consider a safe room as a rally point where you have the ability to protect yourself and call the police. Stash a spare cell phone here.
  • Keep spare vehicle keys or any important spares in a lock box or safe.
  • Always keep the alarm set on your vehicle, even in the garage. Consider a Club or secondary device to prevent theft, even in your garage.
  • Having your the keys next to you while you sleep, you can press the car alarm panic button in a pinch.
  • And, finally, install a home security system from a trusted and reliable company.

 

28 Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Joan Y. Edwards

    Dear Ann,
    I am so sorry that this happened to you. I am praying that God send you everything you need to overcome this and to regain your sense of security.

    Love, Joan

  2. Kelly

    Praying for you and your family, Ann. So sorry. Thank you for sharing your testimony. Wishing you healing, security and serenity.

  3. susan waites

    Annie, Thanks to god that, even though this has been a horriffic experience, it certainly could have been worse. Thank you for sharing these thoughts in hopes that others will think, prepare, and protect themselves. Praying for you (and me)that your security and comfort can somehow be restored.

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Susan, words cannot express my gratitude for your love and friendship as we both live through this horrific event. I am thankful that I do not have to face this chaos alone. I hope that others will take something from this and that no one ever has to endure this kind of trauma. Love – A

  4. Becky

    Ann,
    I am so very sorry to hear about this! I will keep you in my prayers this week and in the weeks ahead. I can not even imagine how violated you must feel. Just know I am thinking about you!
    Becky

  5. Delphine Bigony

    You captured this traumatic event perfectly and your emotional pain shows. Your talent for writing gives us insight into how your psyche is forever changed and gives us perspective as to the need for greater awareness toward protecting ourselves and our property. One of the most startling aspects of this violation is that it occurred in broad daylight. Thanks for sharing the tips.

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Delphine, thank you for your thoughts and kind words. It is true that this pain is deeply emotional and, as you know, has rocked me to my core. I know, broad daylight! On a holiday when we might have easily been there, or come home, to catch them in the act. Thanks, also, for your friendship and for coming to our assist on that horrible day. Love – A

  6. Elysabeth

    OMG. I’ve been thinking of you and did a search today and found your blog and found this. No wonder you aren’t answering your phone calls. Please let me know that you are okay and if there is anything I can do. I’m here if you need me – E 🙂

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of Finally Home, a middle grade/YA paranormal mystery
    http://eeldering.weebly.com

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Thanks, Elysabeth, it has been a crazy weeek. I have been super busy with police, insurance, clean-up, replacing necessities, laundry, and breathing! I really appreciate your kind offer to help. I will call you as soon as I get a chance!

  7. Carol Baldwin

    thanks for sharing this– how awful to experience this.

  8. Margaret

    Dear Ann,

    Those pictures were so frightening! I’m so thankful that you are okay. I wish there was something I could do or say to help restore your sense of security and peace. I will keep you in my thoughts and visualize your healing from this trauma. You are a strong woman! No one’s actions could ever take that away from you.

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Thank you, Margaret, for your support and constant friendship. It means so much that I am in your thoughts. This kind of violation can even shake the strong. Day by day, I am trying to reclaim my sense of security. The love and caring of friends helps.

  9. Joyce Moyer Hostetter

    Thanks for sharing your pain and giving us the heads up! Great tips!

  10. Helen Raley

    Having had a similar experience over twenty years ago, I remember the feelings you expressed. For us, it was the Sunday afternoon following Thanksgiving. Like you just a short distance away at my mother-in-law’s house. Parked under the carport, went in back door and didn’t notice anything till we got to the living room. A scene like in your pictures awaited us. VCR was gone, things on the floor, including a box of good chocolate candy with smashed pieces on the rug–a strange thing to remember, I think. Front door had been kicked in. The three of us proceeded down the hall to our bedroom where a few drawers were opened and guns were missing from a gun cabinet. Guns, we didn’t really want to have, but they belonged to Dick’s dad and we got them after he died. Our cat came out, glad it was us and not those creeps that had been there a short while ago. She could tell us nothing, but always seemed to fear men with caps or hats on after that. Police came to our house and a neighbor’s house that also was “visited that afternoon. They had an “idea” of who did it, but never found our things or arrested anyone. Slowly we could enter the house without looking around to see if it had happened again. It has happened in our current neighborhood, but not to us, thankfully.
    I’m Helen, AKA Great Aunt Moody, from Banshee . I enjoyed meeting you and hearing you talk about your book, FBI things and your unusual neighbors. I’m glad you were not harmed physically and that the bad feelings will leave you mind quickly. It’s an experience that you can use in your future writing, I feel sure. Maybe we will meet again in Homeland or Banshee “land”! Take care. Helen Raley

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Hi Helen! My “Banshee” fellow Moody relative! (I still am not quite sure HOW we are related?!) It was wonderful getting to know you, too! We had great fun filming that night, didn’t we? Maybe we will get to reprise our roles soon! I could certainly use the distraction!
      I am sorry that this happened to you, too. The memory doesn’t fade, does it? These crimes are prevalent in my city. The police have arrested some of the “gang” – not sure if it is our set of criminals – they are doing the fingerprint thing and interrogating them. Apparently they tried to break in a house the next street over at the same time CSI was at our house! So, very similar circumstance. I have to admit that evn with the security system, I am still afraid and jump at unHi Helen! My “Banshee” fellow Moody relative! (I still am not quite sure HOW we are related?!) It was wonderful getting to know you, too! We had great fun filming that night, didn’t we? Maybe we will get to reprise our roles soon! I could certainly use the distraction!
      I am sorry that this happened to you, too. The memory doesn’t fade, does it? These crimes are prevalent in my city. The police have arrested some of the “gang” – not sure if it is our set of criminals – they are doing the fingerprint thing and interrogating them. Apparently they tried to break in a house the next street over at the same time CSI was at our house! So, very similar circumstance. I have to admit that even with the security system, I am still afraid and jump at unfamiliar sounds and look around constantly.
      I know that with time, I will feel better – but right now, it is very raw. I no longer enjoy sitting in the lanai – which was my favorite room – and watch the birds and wildlife play because that is the door they shattered. Hopefully, I will feel safe there again.
      Thanks for visiting my site, Helen. Come back again – usually it’s a happier place!
      familiar sounds and look around constantly.
      I know that with time, I will feel better – but right now, it it very raw. I no longer enjoy sitting in the lanai – which was my favorite room – and watch the birds and wildlife play because that is the door they shattered. Hopefully, I will feel safe there again.
      Thanks for visiting my site, Helen. Come back again and look around – usually it’s a happier place!

  11. Brian Cole

    I’m so sorry to hear of your recent home invasion.
    To the bad guys it’s just “stuff” (that they’ll seel for pennies on the dollar, often to support a substance abuse addition). To US, that stuff is often irreplaceable and priceless – tied with memories. The “invasion” is hugely upsetting to our sense of “peace and security”, especially in young children are living there, or others unable to defend themselves.

    As I read your story and helpful “tips and advice”, I noticed GUN was missing from the list.

    Many gun experts, and many law enforcement officials will agree that a shotgun is THE BEST home defense weapon! Specifically a 5-6 shot, 12 gauge pump shotgun. II’m not recommending one brand over another…but Mossberg’s “Mavervick” division makes a very afforadable AND reliable self-defense weapon called the Model 88. It can be bought for around $300 new, and they can be found in some Pawn Shops used, for less that $200. For easier manageability inside a home/office, sawing on much of the barrel is a common & legal modification. Just be sure to keep the barrel length a minimum of 18.5″ – I suggest 19″ to be safe. If you live in an apartment or townhome, with connected walls to you neighbors, “bird shot” is a common choice for ammo. For those of us in single homes, without a neigbors home 20″ from yours, “00” (“double-aught”) is the most commonly used size. It”ll punch thru drywall but also punch a big hole thru any bad guy.

    I know that gun ownership and gun control is an emotionally charged and hotly debated issue, often made confusing by opinions, rumors and mis-information (lies). However, having a loaded weapon close a hand, that can stop an intruder is an option certainly worth consideration. If there are those in the home/office under that age of 18, the gun owner MUST take precautions to prevent them getting their hands on the gun, without your supervision. We’re “empty nesters”, so that’s not a concern in our home.

    Folklore and urban legend often speak of home invasions stopped merely be “racking the slide” on a pump shotgun. It’s a sound most people know (and fear), and the bad guys know exactly what that means.

    My personal plan is to ONLY use “deadly force” to defend myself or family/friends with me, ONLY when I “reasonably believe the intruder intends to inflict serious bodily harm or death upon an occupant of my home.” I will only shoot to “stop the attack”, I”m not trying to kill anyone here!

    I have a huge respect for all life, especially human life, but if I truly feel my life, or those around me, is about to be seriously injured or killed, sorry bad buy….I value my life more than the bad guy that invaded my home.

    For More Information = contact your local “gun shop” or the NRA. Buy a shotgun, get trained on how to use it, practice often with how to use it, and then… pray to God you never have to pull the trigger in a self defense situation but….enjoy the increased peace of mind and security knowing that you can defend yourself and save the lives of your loved ones because you are properly armed, prepared and trained.

    REMEMEBER: “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away”

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Brian,
      You are so right when you say that to the criminals “it’s just stuff” and to us it is so much more than that. It will take some time before I feel okay again. Safe. Secure. Comfortable. But hopefully, that day will come.
      In the meantime, I have taken some of the steps necessary to feel safer. Including a security system. And though I didn’t include a gun in my list, I completely agree with the right to bear those arms and to protect and defend oneself and one’s family and friends against those who intend harm.
      So, consider this response an add of “firearms” to the list!
      Thank you for writing and offering an additional great resource! I hope you will stop by often!

  12. Linda Andersen

    Ann,
    So sorry. Break-ins are horrific. We’ve had several ourselves. I hope your peace of mind returns soon. I’m praying for you.

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Linda, thank you for writing. I am sorry that you, too, have had to experience this horrific ordeal. I really appreciate your prayers, and your friendship. Time and prayer will heal our hearts, I know.

  13. Lisa Newman

    Like so many other posts, I am truly sorry that you and Susan have had to experience this terrible ordeal. I have prayed much concerning this. Serveral things came to mind as I read what you wrote. Because of your gift of words, I was totally drawn into the whole situation even more than I was when I first heard of it. It made me pray yet once again. I’m one of those that you wrote about that feels that it won’t happen to me. I also feel that even though you may not realize it, your healing has begun, just by writing to help others. I don’t say that this thing happened to teach you something (people use the phrase “everything happens for a reason” out of context too often)…but because someone meant harm to you and Susan, God is giving the both of you wisdom to turn it around…not only for yourselves but for the benefit of others. That’s the start of healing and the rest will come if you hold fast. You are not allowing this thing to hold you captive, like so many would be tempted to do, but you are moving forward. I am inspired by this. I will continue to pray and even though it may sound crazy, thanks for giving of yourself. Lisa

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Lisa,
      Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. Most of all, for your constant prayers for Susan and I as we cope with this tragedy on our way through to healing and recovery. As you know, it is difficult to comprehend the abject random violation that was levied against us and our home. And it is equally difficult to imagine the resolution that will come. But to know that God’s hand will be upon it is of comfort. Thank you also for your friendship and faith in this. I hope you visit this site again. God bless.

  14. Maria Ross

    Ann, Thank you for sharing your awful experience with us and providing such great advice. Maria

Leave a Reply