I’d never heard this expression before until I met Joe, who uses it often, and also pointed out to me long ago that it’s a lyric in Elvis Costello’s Indoor Fireworks. Makes sense, I guess; our houses our probably the sturdiest things in our lives and we’re meant to feel safe when we’re inside, from the weather, from bad people, from the world. So, last week when someone invaded our house in an attempt at burglary, I had to question just how safe we really are.
It was a Monday morning, and as is unfortunately often the case, I had spent an awful night of tossing and turning in anticipation of the looming work-week (also likely in guilt at not yet writing a post about the six-band Ska show I went to a few days before–sorry, maybe later?). I decided to try to get a bit more quality sleep and left for the office almost two hours later than usual. About 10 minutes after I arrived I got a phone call from Joe saying that someone had just tried to rob our house. While he was there! Joe, who is still unemployed after that layoff nearly four months ago, had let one of the cats out the back door, leaving it unlocked and turned to do something else in the house when he heard heavy idling outside. He walked towards the front door to look through our peephole (former KGB spy hole with 200-degree span of vision–way cool!) as he thought it was Nathan’s truck, and no doubt was going to surprise him behind the door, but there was no vehicle. As he turned away to come back to our computer nook, by the back door, that very door opened and a young guy in a black hoodie came into our house. He and Joe saw each other at the same time, whereupon the intruder gasped and fled. Into the Explorer he had backed all the way into our driveway, end facing our back yard gate, idling! He made a quick getaway, but not before Joe noted the licence plate number (connected to a convicted thief). Yay, Joe! This information, Joe’s description of the guy and the fingerprints lifted from the back door knob should eventually bring this guy down.
We know we were lucky. It was apparent he’d seen me drive off and thought the house was unoccupied, and just waltzed through our back gate and was going to clean out our house. No one was hurt, nothing was stolen, and yet the paranoia that has permeated the house has been thick. We keep playing different scenarios in our heads of how differently things could have turned out; what if he had been armed, what if Joe had been a few steps closer to the back and tried to get the guy, or missed the license number? What if it had been me, or Nathan, admittedly the hot-heads of the house?
Supposedly we’re safer now because it’s highly unlikely this loser will return knowing Joe saw him, but still. We’ve sent an email to our neighbors alerting them, and with a few suggestions the police had for deterring these types of lowlifes. Our fence and gate are a wonderful part of our yard that provides much-appreciated privacy, but which is also something thieves look for–shelter from neighbors’ eyes. We now have a clip on the inside latch that makes it impossible to open from the street side. We also have a padlock on our shed, which was something we just kept meaning to get around to, but hadn’t. And of course there are alarm systems and perhaps even more important those window stickers notifying the potential looter to their presence.
So, look around your home to see if there are ways to improve security, or make it a little less tempting for a burglar. Having said that, and after spending the last week jumping at every little sound and peering out the window for black Explorers, last night we came home late from jamming with some friends, we’re tired, our arms are full with instruments, and I left the keys outside in the lock of the front door, totally exposed to the street. Until about 11:30 this morning when we left the house for a walk. A word to the no-doubt-wiser-than-me: DON”T DO THAT!!!