Last night we had an emergency meeting of the crime and security committee instead as we were, alas, burgled.
I got a phone call at work in the late afternoon. Our childminder said and I quote “something has happened at the house.” Of course, I instantly thought that something had happened to one of the children and had gone from imagining them in hospital to seeing their lifeless bodies stretched out before me by the time she explained that there had been a burglary. In this context, the news came as something of a relief.
Mr. Waffle and I went home and found the childminder nervously waiting outside the door with the three children. We went in. The house was in disarray. All the clothes had been thrown out of drawers in the, futile, hope of finding some valuables. My brother and sister have frequently mocked me for my lack of investment in modern technology (no i-pod, ancient stereo, 9 year old television, cheap DVD player, PC purchased second hand in 2001) but it came into its own yesterday as nothing was taken. The thieves did, however, take some of my jewellery. They were discerning thieves. They took the only items of any significant value in the jewellery box: a ring that my parents had given me for my thirtieth birthday and my grandmother’s engagement ring. I was particularly upset about my grandmother’s ring. She always wore it and I clearly remember her wearing it. It always reminds me of her and I adored my Nana and, in due course, I wanted to pass it on to my daughter. I lost it once before. I wore it to mass when I was about 17 (outside my gloves – some kind of bizarre fashion statement) and it fell off (inevitably). But I found it walking all the way between my parents’ house and the church with my head down. This time, I think it’s gone forever.
Mr. Waffle wouldn’t let me touch anything until the police came so that they could dust for fingerprints. I was keen to pick up my underwear (some of which, frankly, had seen better days) off the floor, the bed and the radiator but nothing could be touched until the police came. To be fair they came quite speedily. To be unfair, they were deeply uninterested in our run of the mill burglary. They almost laughed when Mr. Waffle asked about fingerprints. “If we had to send fingerprints for all burglaries to the lab, they’d never get anything done.” They gave no indication that they were going to search for the culprits or that there was the remotest chance that they might be found. They gave us an incident number and told them to fax in details of what we had lost and they would send us a statement for the insurance. I was unimpressed. The children, however, were delighted to have the police in the house and Daniel insisted on kissing them before they went on their way.
When our neighbours came home, it turned out that they had been burgled as well. All the women’s jewellery was gone but nothing else. Our lovely Italian neighbour lost a gold necklace that her grandmother had left her. The Belgians downstairs, who seemed to know the form, asked us for the incident number so that they could fax the police with their details. We had a locksmith in to look at all of our doors (whom Daniel also kissed) and that was it really. Though, startlingly our electricity also went leaving us dealing with neighbours, locksmiths, excited children and the fuse box in one slightly cranky package.
Of course, if the thieves could only have waited 6 weeks we would have been gone or, if the weather had been less fine, the children would have been at home instead of in the park. No use crying over spilt milk, I suppose.
I remember when I was the same age as the Princess, my parents were burgled while we were all asleep in our beds. The burglars took most of my mother’s jewellery including her engagement ring which she had on her beside table, my great-uncle’s gold watch and, bizarrely, my father’s alarm clock (which meant we all overslept). Very excitingly, there was a thumbprint over my bed which the guards dutifully dusted (or whatever it is they do). They never did find the culprits or our stuff. For years afterwards, my mother used to look in the window of a suspect jewellery shop in town where, the guards told her, stolen jewellery often turned up.
My sister, who wasn’t even born at the time of the robbery, remembers my mother staring intently in the window whenever we went to town. I think, aside from her engagement ring, what my mother resented most was the intrusion. The thieves had even had the temerity to make themselves a snack in the kitchen (it was a big house, but still you might have imagined that they would be a bit nervous).
I asked Mr. Waffle whether he thought the thieves might feel bad seeing all our plastic toys and our children’s pictures but he thought not. In my head when I imagined them going through our drawers, I imagined young north Africans which shows that I am a useless liberal as prejudices I didn’t even know I had float to the surface at the slightest provocation. Mr. Waffle comforted me by pointing out that it was probably a young man and, further, all the young men around here were north African. However, a colleague tells me that there is a gang of Romanian women who are notorious for jewellery thefts where they take all the best stuff. Do you think somebody should tell the police what the dogs in the street* appear to know?
*Just to clarify, no insult to my colleague intended here but you know what I mean.