My house was robbed; here’s what I learned from it

By Bobby Bryant

What gets me is that he came through the front door, on a busy Friday, in full daylight.
No skulking around the back for this Darlington burglar. No waiting until dark. No going in on a sleepy weekend or a holiday. He just marched up the front steps, forced open the old, conventional lock (no deadbolt) with a screwdriver and walked in.
How do I know he used a screwdriver? He left it lying on a bed.
On June 5, “between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.,” as they say in police-speak, my house was broken into. First time for me. First time, also, for the house, which my parents bought about 1962.
— One small drawer full of keys that had accumulated at the house for decades, most of them unlabeled and useless, a few of them spares to the house door locks.
— One big blue bank bag that contained my checkbook and some books of checks.
— One safe, about the size of a computer printer, that contained my father’s 1970s-era Smith & Wesson Police Special, a whole folder of blank checks, the title to my car, my birth certificate, my high-school ring, a couple of ancient pocket Bibles my grandparents used to carry, my grandfather’s World War II Army dogtags, a backup disk for personal stuff on my computer, letters, cards, my grandfather’s coin collection (all silver dollars), a sheet of “Lost In Space” stamps issued in the 1990s and my spare glasses.
The Darlington Police Department responded to my 911 call and made out an incident report. A Darlington Police investigator called later to see if I knew of any possible suspects and to see if I had video surveillance. (Nope.)
A Darlington County Sheriff’s Office investigator called June 15 to tell me they had recovered most of the stuff from a suspect’s car. (Long story.) Soon, the city police were handing me back my spare glasses and lots more. The gun was long gone, though.
I try to treat everything as a learning experience. So here’s what I learned from the robbery:
1. Use deadbolt locks on all house doors. No “regular” locks where you just turn a tiny knob and it’s “locked.”
2. At least think about getting a security system, because the mean streets are only going to get meaner, and security systems are only going to get cheaper.
3. Don’t put much faith in smallish safes that one man can pick up and carry under his arm – unless you’ve somehow bolted it to the floor. I put those things in the safe to keep them … safe. But all I really did was make them an easy target.
My glasses wouldn’t have been stolen if they’d been lying on a dresser. My car title wouldn’t have been stolen if it had been stuck in a file cabinet. My birth certificate wouldn’t have been stolen if it had been at the bottom of a drawer. All that stuff became burglar bait solely because it was in a small safe that might as well have said STEAL ME! in neon. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
4. The Darlington Police Department and Darlington County Sheriff’s Office do a good job. At least, they did with me. Not taking sides against the protesters in the streets. Just stating a fact. (Note to protesters: Don’t burn down any more Wendy’s restaurants, please. Wendy’s is the backbone of our economy.)
5. Don’t assume that burglars aren’t crazy enough to come in through the front door in daylight. They are. Don’t count on “broad daylight” as a deterrent, as if housebreakers are vampires who must wait for sundown. Anytime’s a good time for a robbery.
6. Burglars are not afraid of cats, but cats are afraid of burglars.

Author: Stephan Drew

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