Wednesday, May 13, 2009

30. Welcome back to reality (unedited)

I have been living a low-key life, getting by, not worrying about too much, despite not accomplishing nearly enough to make my life better. I can't complain, and I won't. Many people would appreciate my situation.

Life is full of bumps in the road, and today I hit one.

Last night I couldn't fathom what to write about. I typically title a blog before I write it, which is ironic because for most news stories I write I save the headline until the end. So when I started the blog, I had no title, and didn't want to use something generic such as "the river has run dry." I ended up recounting how I made a Parkinson's disease joke to a guy with Parkinson's disease.

Today I got one of those periodic slaps in the face the we all experience at numerous points in life.

I received a cell phone call shortly before 5 p.m., but didn't hear it ring because I turn the ringer down to one beep at work, and had headphones on at the time of the call. I took them off just in time to hear a beep that I had a new voice mail message and checked the number of the missed call. It was local, and looked vaguely familiar, but I didn't recognize it. I didn't worry about checking the message, as I was getting ready to leave. I figured I'd check the message in my car, on my way home. It was movie night tonight, and I was going home to change clothes, set the VCR to record "Lost" and head to the theater.

That message was from the apartment management, and it was a call about a noise report. I tend to have my radio on sports radio late at night when I'm sitting up, and I thought perhaps somebody had called to complain the radio was too loud.

No, the noise that was reported was determined to be the door of my apartment being kicked in, evidently. It's unclear who called to report a noise, when they heard it, when they reported it or who determined my door had indeed been kicked in. But sometime between 10:15 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. my door was kicked in. Yep, I was burglarized. I didn't know that until I got home, but I was certain my door wasn't accidentally busted open by building maintenance workers.

The message said maintenance would be coming to work on my door so that I wasn't left with an unlocked unit. A maintenance guy came shortly after I got home and called police. The building manager mentioned in his message that he could assist me on Thursday morning in filing a police report if something was missing. He had no evidence that I hadn't kicked in my own door, but it would seem that upon confirming the door had been broken he should have called the police immediately.

While driving home I pondered what could be missing. Would my bulky outdated computer, large worthless television or 6-year-old bicycle, highly valuable to me only, be missing? Nope all was there.

But it was clear the closets had been opened, looking for anything of value. Golf clubs, perhaps? They weren't in the closet, and they're not missing. The only thing I'd think somebody would have wanted from my closets is some sort of safe or lock box. Sorry, nothing like that here.

Upon inspecting the bedroom I found my mattress out of place. Yep, they looked for an envelope of cash underneath it. Do people really do that?

They also searched several drawers from my two dressers, as they were left open. They searched the top three with no luck on the dresser closest to the door. They searched two drawers of the other dresser, atop which my TV sits. On that dresser was a large plastic container, they kind they use to sell yard drinks at Las Vegas pools and resorts. That's where mine came from, and I used it to collect silver coins for a future vacation. I had more than a year's worth of coins saved. By my estimate there was $125 worth of coins in there. That's gone.

But that's about it. I later determined one other thing was missing: two-thirds of a 1.75 liter bottle of Captain Morgan rum. Not sure why I realized it wasn't sitting amongst all the crap on my kitchen counters, but somehow it occurred to me.

So somebody broke into my apartment during the daytime, by kicking in the door, to look for a quick cash grab. Was $125 a successful take? I'd have to think so. How many people have more than that laying around their apartment? I have no idea, maybe everybody does.

My assumption is that it was a rather amateur thief, working alone. He grabbed a big plastic tube of coins and a jug of liquor and carried it out of the building to a vehicle somewhere. Perhaps he had a duffel bag of some sort and took something I didn't realize, such as one of my pay stubs sitting on the kitchen counter, unopened. But I doubt it. Any thief who makes a point to take a large, partial container of booze isn't probably collecting a lot of personal information. I'd have no way of knowing if he grabbed personal information, but it wasn't obvious that any such letters/documents were removed from any pile in my apartment. It was clear he went through a dresser drawer looking for cash underneath clothing, but I doubt he took the time to look carefully at envelopes to determine if they might contain valuable personal information without disturbing the piles in my apartment. I am sure he was in a hurry, given the noise he had to have made kicking in the door, even if there were few people in either building, as evidenced by the lack of cars in our lot most days.

So what did he miss? He went through several dresser drawers, but not the top drawer of the second dresser he searched. In there are a couple of bank envelopes contain petty cash. One has maybe $20 in $2 bills, the other contains $30 or so in mostly singles, singles I've collected for various reasons. Most because they were marked by others who use to track the movement of bills. A few just because they were old, including an old $10 bill. I'll bet there's at least $60 total there...I haven't counted. But he missed them. There were also two Minnesota Twins tickets in the drawer, valued at about $60. The contents of the drawer would have added another $100 to the take, so I am lucky.

Amongst the many things spread out across my kitchen counter was a pile of cards, such as gift cards and video store membership cards. In that pile was a valid Visa credit card with no balance due, meaning it had a few grand in available balance. I'm not sure how easily you could get away with fraud simply by having a credit card that says "Ask 4 ID" on the back of it, but it would be worth something in the wrong hands, I am sure. He was too focused on that big bottle of rum, lucky me.

Had a burglar broken into my car by shattering a window, it would have cost me more than the $125 in coins that was stolen. So I do feel fortunate that it wasn't worse.

But it was a rather sobering experience, literally. Had it never happened, I'd be drinking a rum and Diet Pepsi right now, writing about the chick flick I saw tonight, or something like that. Instead I have a lot of thoughts to express during the next few nights, although it cost me about $140 in rum and coins. At least I hope that's all it cost me.

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