Last Sunday night, at around midnight, someone broke into my garage and stole my awesome Schwinn trike and a very nice cooler. When I say, “broke in” I mean they opened the gate at the back of my property, walked around the house, opened the garage door and went inside. It was a pretty easy job. I suppose it’s a blessing that there’s no evidence that the crooks actually tap danced their way through the job, although I’m not sure how I could be more embarrassed.
My dog Stadler (the world’s only hydrophobic black Lab, and former security professional), tried to warn me by barking, but Stadler has a tendency to sound the alarm in non-emergent situations like: another dog is being walked by the house, a truck is stopped at any of the four stops signs on the corner, an errant leaf is blowing across the driveway, or SQUIRRELS ARE EVERYWHERE! I’m not sure how to communicate human emergency prioritization to a dog, but there have been several conversations this week about the problem. We’re not making much headway.
Monday morning, I discovered the crime because the thieves messed up my garage door on the way out. After pressing the button to open the door 41 times, I quickly ascertained that it wasn’t functional. They had switched it to manual while finishing the heist. Missing items were noted, parents (the Rev and the Great Provider) were informed and the cops were called. An officer arrived in about an hour (the Rev and the G.P. made it in less than 8 minutes). He looked around, rolled his eyes at my “home security” (Stadler), who tried to lick his hand affectionately in return. He told me that even though the cops have a pretty good idea who’s committing the rash of burglaries in my neighborhood, they’re much too understaffed to do anything about it. He said the department is short 100 – 125 full time officers.
The G.P. spent the rest of the day installing new and interesting security measures around the property. Super locks went up on all the doors and gates. Screeching, one zillion decibel alarms went on every door and window. Stadler lost the use of her dog door. I knocked on the steel insert by way of explanation saying, “Buddy, don’t ram into this.” She acted like she understood right up until she heard a squirrel outside and almost concussed herself trying to go say hello (our yard squirrels are so fat and glossy that I suspect she’s sneaking them dog food).
The weird turn pro
After a day of beefing up home security, my keychain weighed approximately 90 pounds and looked like I had a second job as a jailer in a medieval dungeon. One would think that all the new security on top of the old, dysfunctional system (which was essentially a few locks and 80 pounds of loud, fuzzy love torpedo) would allow one to feel a sense of calm comfort in their home. Yeah. Not me. As the night descended, I became increasingly paranoid. Sleep was impossible, even though I was emotionally and physically exhausted. Here is a brief timeline of the evening’s events:
9:00: First attempt at heading to bed. Check all 370,000 locks. Looks good? “Better safe than sorry.” Start over and check them again. Arm screechers. Test screechers by unlocking locks and opening doors and windows. Get hit in face with a gajillion decibels. Disarm and rearm screechers. Re-lock locks. Re-check locks to make sure locks are ACTUALLY locked.
9:08: Begin the cycle of existential dread. Note Stadler sleeping soundly on end of bed. Get jealous of dog.
10:30: Lock re-check. Unlock locks to make sure locks are locking. Re-lock locks. Head back to bed, but have to turn around because none of the screechers went off. Unlock locks. Open door. Get hit in face with a gazillion decibels. Close door. Re-lock locks.
11:00: Still can’t sleep, but don’t want to go check locks again. Already sorry about safety. Contemplate further security improvements.
Midnight: Still awake, listening intently for the sound of crooks slinking around the property. Consider taking sleeping bag and shotgun and crawling up into the rafters of the garage and waiting for them. Dismiss idea because unsure of location of sleeping bag. Maybe in garage? Convinced thieves are inevitably returning. Must be ready.
2:00: Increased security a must. Begin installing new units. Wedges go under doors (which sets off alarms and causes more decibels in face). Begin considering other weak spots. Decide that yard security needs some help. Unlock doors, set off alarm, disable alarm, head into yard with keys and flashlight, locking door behind me. Definitely need to eliminate hand holds on fence. Definitely need Stadler-proof tiger trap. Head to garage to get shovel. Unlock door. Set off door alarm AND motion alarm. Disable alarms. Get shovel. Realize that it’s now 3:00 a.m., visibility is nil and that digging a tiger trap may be a tiny bit of an over-reach. Note shovel in hand. Design burglar trap in garage that consists of shovel hanging from rafters with rope rigged so that if the door opens shovel hits burglar in face. Feel very Indiana Jones. Arm shovel. Close door. Lock door. Re-arm motion detector and door alarm. Double check everything (predictably get a gajillion decibels right to the face twice). Head to backdoor to re-enter house. Can’t find keys.
3:30: Find keys on BBQ grill. Re-enter house. Locks. Alarm. Decibels. Double check.
4:00: Still waiting for incursion. Have almost worked myself up to accepting that thugs are definitely going to come into my house and make off with all my stuff. Considering that I furnished my place with other people’s trash (garage sales) and that the net value of all my junk is approximately $83.32 at the pawn shop, what I’m really worried about is that if further burglaries occur, I won’t be able to sleep for a year.
4:23: Fall into fugue state. Waves of paranoia intermingle with hallucinations of me finally getting to yell at people who park poorly.
5:31: Alarm clock beeps. Emerge from blanket cocoon and prepare to go to the gym. Unlock 370, 000 locks, successfully disable screechers without getting nailed, happy with self, am security genius,head to garage, disable alarms, unlock door (feeling of total pride at successfully navigating the maze). Narrowly avoid death by murder shovel.
It’s been several days and awful nights since. I haven’t had time to dig the Stadler-proof tiger trap, but I have been secretly sharpening bamboo in preparation. The murder shovel is still armed, although I’m beginning to wonder what accidentally (cough) decapitating a thief is going to do to my insurance premiums. The only thing I’m sure of is that it’s definitely too late to put up a “Beware of Dog” sign. Even the squirrels don’t buy it.