If you’ve been fortunate enough to never have been burgled you perhaps won’t understand the feeling that you have when you discover that someone ‘unknown’ has been through your possessions and taken the most valuable and often the most sentimental too.
I recall clearly driving up the M4 on my return from the Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre. I recall feeling invigorated and ready to face the world. A world without Tish. But also a world that I had in mind I needed to rediscover. A feeling that I should venture back outside my front door, embrace and move on. Ready to look for new relationships and also go back to paid employment. I felt, although this sounds daft, like a Phoenix rising. On my drive home, I worked out what next. How I was going to attack some of the tasks I’d decided to undertake. What to do? When to do it? Who to speak to? For the first time in quite a while I felt positive. I was also longing to get into my bed (always freshly made with new bedlinen ready for my return from a break – a little OCD but there are worst things than making up your bed before going away so it’s ready for your return!).
When I got home and opened the door into the hallway, I knew instantly that someone had been in. My bedroom door was open. I always close it when I leave. Nobody had been due to visit. Nobody had keys. I knew something was wrong.
I first walked into my bedroom. They’d been through everything. Clearly they’d taken their time. Clearly they knew I wouldn’t be home. Every drawer, every cupboard, every box has been tipped up and the contents pillaged. Every handbag and purse had been rifled for money.
I felt sick. Terrified that they were still in my home. Violated. All that enthusiasm I’d felt on the drive home was gone… in an instant.
How could someone come in and go through my possessions with a complete disregard for my feelings?
The police were brilliant. They arrived quickly but were shocked at the state of my home. Whilst trying to reassure me they also told me that this was the worst they had seen.
I called a friend and went to stay on their sofa. I couldn’t even get to my bed for everything that was strewn over it. I didn’t sleep and was back early in the morning for the police to come back and search for fingerprints and clues.
It was also very difficult to work out what was taken as so much was out of place. Lots of empty boxes and disturbed possessions throughout my home. It took ages for me to work it out. The part that really destroyed me was that they had been through a lot of Mum’s things. Possessions that I’d not really taken the time to look at or open the boxes yet as they all held such memories for me.
My office was in as much of a state as my bedroom. My computer gone. All the work I’d put into my charity work disappeared with the computer they had. Notes and research about Phyllodes and cancer. Yes I had a backup which they managed not to steal but nowhere to put it back on to and not complete.
All the plans I’d made to move on with my life taken from me.
It’s funny. A lot of people said ‘at least you were insured’ and ‘a quick way to downsize your possessions’. Both good points but insurance is only good if you’re replacing things that you don’t care about and that they CAN be replaced. Some of the possessions were irreplaceable.
I wanted to move on. But with every turn felt stuck until things were replaced, sorted and I didn’t feel as if ‘they’ had touched everything. A friend came over helped me sort out and clean my home. I also can’t sleep. Every sound at night and I was up checking outside, looking through windows and doors.
I’m also so angry. More when I was informed that they think it was one of my ‘neighbours’ who’d done it. I remember seeing him loitering on the street corner a few days before. He knew that I’d gone away. He probably watched me put my bags in the car. He would have seen me dressed in black heading off to Tish’s funeral. How dare he?
I need to move on. But how do I leave my home without worrying about it? How do I return without that sick feeling as I open the front door? How do I sleep through noises?
‘They’ don’t just take possessions when they burgle you. They take so much more…
UPDATE: It took months to sort out and find out what was gone. The insurance company took over 9 months to eventually settle the claim. Not that any of it was in dispute but because it apparently was too difficult for them to find comparable items… for cameras, computers and phones… so I found that I had to do the hard work for them and my poor insurance broker spent an inordinate amount of his time chasing them.