Monday, October 19, 2009


I live in a relatively safe neighborhood. We basically straddle the city/county line, and we're spared all the Really Bad crime from deeper in the city. However, we are not immune to the smaller stuff, like theft and break-ins/cat burglars. C and I always figured we were good, though. We leave our porch light on. We have a halo of light around the house that's so bright a pedestrian could spot us from a block away. We don't have junk around the yard, or leave anything in sight that could be a temptation. We have lights on timers inside the house, and have been known to leave the bathroom light on at night just for that little bit of randomness that would leave potential thieves guessing.

Basically, we're very careful to avoid being a target.

In the 10 years C has been in the house, he's never had an issue. In the 1.5 years I've lived here, I never really felt cause for alarm. Sure, we're in one of the most dangerous cities in the US, but that hasn't affected our area (yet).

On Friday, though, my opinion of this area changed.

C called me as I was walking out the door at 4 on Friday...he was agitated. He wanted to know if I was home, and if I was OK. I mentioned I was on my way to the car, and he sounded relieved. Then he broke the news. Apparently, at 3pm, 4 teenagers of dubious background attempted to invite themselves inside our home. (Normally, I would be home by around 3 or 3:15, which would explain part of C's excitement.) They failed, and left the area when they realized they'd been spotted. Thanks to nosy neighbors, the police came out (within a half hour from the first call - AMAZING, considering the size of the district and the amount of crime that occurs farther in the city), wrote a report, and left a note for us to call back if anything was amiss. When I arrived home, I collected the information they left, and walked around the house. There was evidence of attempts to get in at various points - a footprint in the garden directly under the bolted-in AC unit, a moved screen on the back porch, handles on the metal basement doors not sitting the way we'd left them - but no glass was broken. It appears they tried every window in the back, and when they realized this wasn't an option, they tried to climb onto the back porch (where they could access my office AC unit and the door leading inside to our closet room). Whomever tried to scale that wall slipped, put his foot through the screen in the window next to the back porch door, yanked off part of the floodlight, and pulled down part of the gutter.

C spent part of that evening and most of Saturday bolting down some windows, removing all the AC units that WEREN'T bolted down (like the one in my office), barring up the basement windows, and generally running around the house like a madman. He is truly shaken by this...I don't think he imagined it would happen to him, despite knowing the only crime trend in our neighborhood is exactly what we managed to avoid.

It took me awhile, BUT I think I have him convinced that it was a test, and we passed - they did not get into the house, and we've discovered the remaining weak points so we could immediately rectify them.

What gets me, though, is why they picked us. Yes, we're the youngest couple on the block, but we're also not necessarily the best target. The kids had obviously been watching the house - they didn't even bother to go to the front door to see if we were home. One would think they'd know C is "that crazy guy" who trims the trees with a samauri sword. One would think they'd know we're the loudest voice in the "lock your doors and windows" campaign we've had going for a year. One would also think they'd pick either of the adjacent homes, since one is vacant (but still has half the previous owner's furniture) and the other has open/broken windows (despite someone living there).

So, we're left with that "why us?" problem. Paranoia is currently through the roof, and I fear what may happen next. Will they come back? Will they get in this time? Will they do so with one of us at home, and just how much of a dangerous situation will this be?

I just wish this state actually considered its residents worthy of protecting themselves. It would be nice to know I wouldn't go to jail for shooting someone in the process of defending my home.


NotClauswitz said...

Remember they're teenagers, so despite every, "One would think they'd know," they frequently have short-circuits of that synaptic stuff. One of the biggest problems teenagers face is impulse control, which may be why they did it - and that they did it at all - not because it was *you* they chose.
Once impulse control fails them and they *launch*, they can only run on adrenaline from there, like in a panic. It's not smartness.
Still (and because of that), be vigilant.
And they probably have already been through both vacant homes and know what's there inside and out.

Laura said...

You've got a point. This was written while I was still reeling from the whole incident. Once I could think clearly about it, I came to a similar conclusion.

Fortunately, the neighboring county's PD caught 3 of 4 kids who fit the descriptions (including the car), so hopefully we won't see another least not from that group.

Mike W. said...

the neighboring county's PD caught 3 of 4 kids who fit the descriptions.

Good to hear. You guys live in a decent area of Baltimore, but then again it's still Baltimore.

Laura said...

Yeah...our pocket is nice, but a half mile down the road is significantly less than nice.

mike's spot said...

My home was robbed twice growing up. It shakes you and sometimes you never lose it. I lived in a very rural area, but it afforded us no additional protection from crime.

I'm glad things went as good as they could have for you- having home and hearth violated by unwelcome guests is something I don't wish on anyone.

NotClauswitz said...

Still, it takes a while for the hinky feelings to subside, especially when you know there are "pockets" around you. Hope things are better.

Laura said...

Mike - You're absolutely right, it's something I doubt we'll ever really forget.

Dirtcrashr - We keep looking at moving away, but the housing market really needs to recover (and I really need to graduate) before we can seriously consider moving.

When we do, though, you can bet your butt we're going somewhere that has minimal crime.

NotClauswitz said...

I can totally understand about the housing market issue! :-)