And then on Tuesday some turds broke into the house and robbed us. They made off with my camera, along with a variety of other electronics and my jewelry box. It sucked, but we were lucky. They didn't trash the house. They didn't cause much damage (have you heard of those poor people who have their copper pipes stolen?!? Imagine repairing all that dry wall). And most importantly, we were all out of the house, including Foster, the four-legged love of my life.
We live on the elevated first floor of a walk up building which means that people can see into parts of our apartment. It's not a direct view, like you'd get living on the ground floor, but it's also not like living on a 2nd or 3rd floor. And this summer I've had a bit of a love affair with the natural light that streams in through the trees around the building so I've had the blinds open a lot more and much more predictably (ie: the blinds on a certain window open only when I'm working from home, etc).
So... I'm pretty sure they cased the joint and had an idea of what we had and when we were in/out of the house. The logistics of the building didn't help things either. There's a locked 6 foot fence around the building but once you're over that our deck is nice and private and it turns out our door wasn't doing us any favors either. It took the thieves 2 or 3 pops of a crow bar to get in.
It's been a chaotic week dealing with everything that comes after a burglary - tracking down serial numbers, dealing with the police, talking to my amazing insurance agent every 30 minutes (seriously, I owe that man some donuts!), and then getting the door and locks replaced which surprisingly took two full days. We have a fantastic neighbor who is a carpenter with a "Mike Holmes" attitude. He did an incredible job fixing things up and making sure we feel secure again.
Unfortunately I don't think they'll find the guys who broke in, nor do I expect they will find our stuff. That's ok though. I can live without stuff. I can't live without the dog or Roy. And in a week where the news was dominated by images of the damage from Hurricane Irene and people whose homes or lives were destroyed... I don't know, it just puts things in perspective.
So long story short, it may be a few weeks before I'm up and running here again. After eating PBJ, takeout and frozen waffles on the go while we dealt with the stuff in the house, I can't wait to get back to cooking and a more normal routine. I'll do my best with my point and shoot in the meantime and will keep working on the site updates I started late last month (see: recipe index, but don't judge me for my still messy-HTML).
In the meantime, may I suggest a few things I wish I'd known before Tuesday?
- Don't advertise your stuff. Especially on the lower levels of your home (or if you live on a lower level). In hindsight, I should have been more cautious about the blinds I opened and what was visible through them.
- Don't make it obvious when you're home and when you're gone. Vary the blinds you open, the lights you leave on. Don't make it easy for a crook to figure you out.
- This may seem obvious but keep your doors locked, even when you're home. We think the thieves heard my upstairs neighbor take his dogs for a walk while they were robbing us and crept upstairs to see if he'd left his door open (which in fact, he had, we all did prior to Tuesday). We're 95% sure they snuck in and started to check out his place when they saw his wife in a back bedroom and hightailed it out of there.
- Think about where you store your valuables like jewelry, special family heirlooms and pieces that are cheap but have sentimental meaning. You want to keep them close enough so that you can wear them, but think twice about what is just sitting in your jewelry box or the top drawer of your dresser because that seemed like the logical place to put it.
Beyond those basic and probably obvious things, here are a handful of other things I'd recommend. It's the stuff you always have the best intentions of doing but never get to.
- Take an hour out of your weekend to go around the house and jot down the descriptions and serial numbers of anything you'd be sad to have stolen. Take photos or a video of your house as well and save it to the web somewhere so you always have it handy, even if your laptop gets stolen. Windows Live SkyDrive lets you store videos, photos and documents in the "cloud" privately. You can also use something like Snapfish or Kodak for the photos.
- Think about how you keep track of your usernames and passwords for the web. I keep everything in an Excel spreadsheet that is password protected. And I email it to myself every 6 months or so. Don't leave your passwords on post-it notes stuck to your computer or desk.
- Concerned about the quality of work by your builder or just the security of your doors and windows? Have a carpenter check them out. We learned too late that the door jamb had more space than it should have (which made it easier to break in) and it was attached to dry wall (I mean... come on, was the builder serious?!?).
- Set aside 20 minutes to call your insurance agent and get the details on your homeowners insurance policy. Find out exactly what would be reimbursed if someone cleaned you out and make sure you're happy with the deductible and reimbursement quality.
- And while you're at it, get your expensive jewelry or other one-of-a-kind items on your insurance policy and while you're at it...