Sunday, 17 May 2009

Are the doors locked, daddy?

We always lock the front door. All the time. But two years ago I'd bought a new bike and I'd cycled home ahead of the rest of the family, then left the door unlocked for them to get in. When they arrived they put their bags down in the hall and left the door unlocked. And sometime in the next half-hour, somebody walked into our house and stole a small amount of money. I was dialling 999 when Sally found her turquoise 'Nemo' purse was empty. She let out an anguished howl and the Police were round at the house in a matter of minutes.
Sarah had actually seen the women as she 'made good her escape' (as they say) so she went off in the patrol car while I dealt with a little girl in shock. We drew pictures of the thief and tore them up, we talked about the reasons somebody might walk into a house and steal a small girl's pocket money and I lied about how long she might end up in prison. That night, we checked and double-checked the doors and windows, establishing a routine that would become wearyingly familiar in the next few weeks and months.
And years? It's over two years now since someone randomly and opportunistically decided to try our front door and nick some small change and my daughter's pocket-money. Gone are the days of double-checking every door before bedtime. We don't have to go upstairs with Sally every evening 'just in case'. I even thought she might have forgotten the entire episode. And then, with Charlie safely tucked-up in his cot, some good stuff on the telly, Sally in her Pj's on her weekend 'stay-up' and with me unwinding on the sofa with a glass of vino, I hear the words I thought I'd never hear again.
Talk about a victim impact statement.


  1. Chilling, and a reminder that these kids really do see and remember everything. And that's chilling,too.

  2. Children have such emotionally charged memories it's not really surprising that such an invasive event has stayed with her. What a horrible experience for you all... the one thing you want in life is for your kids to feel safe in their own home.

  3. What a shame it has affected her like this.

  4. I agree, chilling isn't it that the event is always there like that...

  5. one night my husband after being up late went to bed and forgot to lock the back door.

    i got up to feed 2year old (she was only about 6weeks at the time) and i heard the back door open. i though i was hearing things so i stood at the top of the landing and listened. i heard footsteps moving through the kitchen!!!! i was panic stricken and ran 2wake up my husband, by the time we both came down stairs he'd gone and left the back door open. i didn't sleep well for months!! even now after nearly 3years later it still bothers me!

  6. It's a painful experience, eben for an adult, let alone for a young 'un. What a shame we have to keep ourselves safe behind locked doors

  7. Oh dont, D, thats terrifying. I'm sorry you and your family were traumatised and robbed like that.

    I know its daft but I always lock my door now after seeing Shawn of the Dead recently. Can;t bear a zombie to walk in , the way their's did.


  8. Horrible. Not you, hearing about your daughter's money being taken. A similar thing happened to us last year. Someone walked into our house through an unlocked back door (the only time I've forgotten to lock it) and took my laptop and mobile phone. It isn't something you forget and I'm extra careful now. Thankfully, my daughter (then 4) knows nothing about it.

  9. That really isn't nice, but I suppose it is life.

    I hope it is not too traumatic, or traumatic at all for you now, take care.

  10. Like most people in our little town, the front door is never locked during the day. However...

    I had an intruder walk into our home late one night (I had forgotten to lock the door) and mount the stairs. He/she must have heard me going to the bedroom door because they fled. Next morning we discovered that my son's Playstation was missing...

    I can't say that it was a traumatic event for any of us, but the front door is locked every night now!

  11. My son was scared by one of his sisters friends who let himself in and my son thought we were being burgled. He is very careful about locking the doors every night too. It really is tragic that Sally's been so affected by it.

  12. Yes, Sue - especially as it was so long ago (more than the two years I thought it'd been when I wrote that post).

    Absolutely, Robert. It took away an awful lot more than the £1.50-odd in her purse.

    She's fine about it now, DJ - which is why the other evening was so surprising.

    But as you say, OMG, it's probably always going to be there, and that is chilling.

    That's seriously scary, Amy. Easily done, too. I've been out with Charlie and forgotten to lock the back-door. (I never tell Sally!)

    It's a cliche, I know - but there really was a time when people didn't bother. I can remember walking straight into people's houses as a youngster. (People known to me, I hasten to add...)

    It wasn't the theft, Jenny - some young girl after easy money, not even credit cards were taken - but the after-effect on Sally. We did the whole victim-impact thing and it was read in court, but I doubt it would've had much effect.

    Keep it that way, Rosie. I'd never have believed the effect it's had on Sally.

    She was a little girl back then, Z - and her little Nemo purse was obviously a child's. Didn't stop the thief, though.

    We take a lot of care now, Ian, as you might expect!

    Seems the most common way these people operate, Robert - trying doors until they find one that's unlocked. The women who tried ours was eventually charged with three or four other identical offences - all of them on the same day.

    Well, I like to think it's at least made us all more careful now, AG. So some good may have come of it.

  13. When I was a child in Italy someone broke into our house thinking they would found a big amount of money as my dad was supposed to have the pay cheques for his employees (at the time bank money transfer wasn't used for salaries!) but he had paid them a day in advance so the thieves did not find any money. They stole some jewellery but it wasn't enought for them so they destroyed furniture, beds etc in a fit of rage. They even peed on the carpet! The only room they left untouched was mine, a pink room full of fluffy toys, dolls and kids' stuff. My mother was so shocked that she couldn't sleep for years whilst I felt safe in my cocooned room. It's awful that these people are so low that they even rob kid's purses! Ciao. A.

  14. I guess it never leaves you, no matter how young or old you are.

    CJ xx

  15. The great thing about being burgled in the UK (if you know what I mean) is that you can usually still scare them off by letting them know you're in the house. In the US, if you know someone's in your house, you keep as quiet as you possibly can, phone the police if possible, and hope to god they're not armed.
    However, in the 19 years I've lived here, I've never had an incident. (Knock on wood.)

  16. Sounds dreadful, Antonella. And puts our little brush with crime into perspective! I suppose it's just the fact that all the terrible things kids know happen were suddenly made real by this very low-grade crime.

    And I'm sure you're right, CJ. Something has changed forever.

    That sounds seriously scary, ExM. Hope that never starts to happen here.

  17. Hello! I have an award for you over at mine. Hope you like it! RMx

  18. Poor thing. It obviously had a deep impact on her. Shame she's had to learn about human nature so young.

    It makes me so annoyed that some people behave in this way without any regard for others' feelings. I'm still smarting from someone kicking my car round my petrol cap before Easter. Do they think it magaically gets fixed for free? Now husband's car has been 'keyed' (while he was at the football) and he refuses to pay to have it fixed so I have a daily reminder of the vandal's work. Aarrgh!

  19. Poor thing, we never really know what's in their minds do we?

  20. Crikey - poor Sally and poor you. A child's memory is amazing - my eldest often remembers things that I've long since forgotten. I hopeSally's memory of this fades with time - but if it doesn't, at least she'll live in a safe house when she's older!

  21. Thanks, RM - I'm popping over now to take a look!

    We've been victims of a car-badge nicking trend round here, WM. Personally, I think if e-bay prohibited their sale the trend would soon decline.

    Well, no - although Sally left us in littel doubt about how she felt about having her pocket-money stolen, Sub!

    Yes, looking on the bright-side MT, she's going to be very security-conscious.

  22. Isn't it interesting that we tend to think, "what are the chances that the one time we forget to lock the door would be the time someone would try to enter?" But, as your experience and many of the commenters prove, perhaps it will be that one time that someone chooses to check your doors.

    We live in what seems to be a very tranquil safe neighborhood, but, we've had more than our share of car break ins up and down the street, so, you just can't judge by appearances.

  23. Oh little sweetie... not you, Sally of course! :)
    My eldest is just starting to get scared with lots of weird stuff and not long ago he came to our room at 3 in the morning in sweats and crying. He just didn't want to go to bed and kept looking at the wall on his bedside saying (screaming rather) "SCARY!!!"
    We had to move his bed around for him to agree to go back to his bed the following night. He still talks about it and point at the wall from time to time. We really don't know what he saw but it must have been pretty ugly!

  24. It makes me more angry than I can imagine. My son is still at the point where he thinks "robbers" are the products of imagination like - Ahlbergs' Burglar Bill. I taught in in a school once (covering the dreaded PPA) and I left my mobile on the side; forgot I had done in and, of course, it was nicked. I wanted to believe I had lost it, until the phone bill confirmed the truth. I know one of the Y5's had taken it ( probably can narrow it down to 2 suspects) and it made me so sad; especially as we had just had a fantastic, creative history lesson. I want around saying "Ohhh my fault, I shouldn't have left it out" etc etc, before pulling myself up; I SHOULD be able to leave my phone/purse/bag in a class of 9 year olds and it NOT result in a theft. Sorry to go on...

  25. You certainly can't, Serena. We thought we lived in a nice part of town, and our car's been vandalised again!

    If only we knew what was going on inside their minds, PHM. I'm sure Sally's over it now, but you never know...

    Oh, don't apologise Katherine. And I think anger is entirely appropriate in such cases. The trouble with the criminal justice system is that the process is so long (our intruder finally turned up in court over a year later) that the immediate impact of the crime has all but disappeared. And in the meantime, of course, more crime has often been committed.


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