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.
Very sorry to hear about the burglary, and most especially your grandma’s ring. I imagine it’s very horrible to feel you have been intruded upon.
I have a friend in Edinburgh who was burgled and she says that the worst thing was the enormous turd they left in the bathtub. The police told her that this is quite common – something to do with the rush of adrenalin.
How horrible for you. Hope miracles happen and the ring turns up…
We were burgled in January and my related blog posts were far more vulgar and a mess of incoherency in comparison to yours. Well done for remaining composed.
I’m sorry you have to go through this. The sense of violation was the worst aspect of it for me, and I too wondered if they paused at all when they saw our family photos or pictures of my daughter. Interestingly, they left her room alone, which rather than a rare moment of kind heartedness was probably more of a result of the fact that they figured there was nothing of interest in a toddler’s room.
In our case some of my husband’s jewellery was stolen, but they left all of mine – including my platinum and diamond engagement ring. Go figure. They took our laptop, which was fine except it contained all of the photos we had taken of our daughter’s life up to that stage.
It still drives me mad that people who think they can just walk into the homes of others and take their stuff, exist. Jerks.
I know the chances of them catching anyone or recovering your stolen items is limited, but good luck in that regard nonetheless.
I’m sorry for the distress this must cause you. I must insert the obligatory recommendation for intercessory prayer to St. Anthony:
Dear St. Anthony come around
Something has been lost, and can’t be found.
I’m not sure if there is a patron saint for bringing bad people to a fitting end, but in lieu of one you can pray Psalm 58.
wow – psalm 58! there’s anger for you.
i am amazed at the amount of burglaries in brussels though. my sister had her flat broken into last summer. they made a royal mess of it, but took nothing – apparently my sister and her BF came home sooner than the thieves expected and interrupted the free-for-all, or, as i suggested, they just down have anything worth taking… they too called the police, they too expected fingerprint dusting, they too got laughed at by the lethargic belgian gendarmes.
i think brolo’s intercession to st anthony might be more helpful in these matters than the belgian police, and hope that the good saint will help and bring your grand-mother’s ring back to you. i’ll keep my fingers crossed!
Oh, waffley. I’m so sorry, but so glad no one was hurt.
My apartment was burgled a few months after I moved to chicago. I was just out of college and had a 20-year-old VCR that was taken, and a TV with a teeny-tiny screen. they missed the engagement ring on the sink in the bathroom.
hoping against hope your gramma’s ring turns up.
oh, so sad. I am sorry x
Poor you – heartfelt sypathies. I wonder if that jewellery shop in Cork your mum was told about is the same one that a Cork friend of a Cork friend recently found her burgled engagement ring in, also at the suggestion of the local constabulary, though it took a year to show up. Any chance the useless Belgian cops could point you in the direction of similar establishments in Brussels?
You are all good kind people and I daresay worse things happen at sea. I am, however, very grateful for the sympathy and the reference to psalm 58.
oh poor you – I really feel your pain. I got burgled a couple of years ago but they mostly took electronics – tv, computer, etc – and left my jewellery alone, thank god. Though they did also take my teenage photo album – lord knows why they’d want photos of my spotty teenage self, but there you go. In some ways I was more upset about losing that than anything else.
How about, if you have a good memory of what the ring is like, and you have photos, getting a replacement ring made. It’d mean her memory lives on in a daily item – admittedly it might also serve to remind you of a horrid incident, but it might be nice to be able to keep her memory in an item.
I’m so sorry. Some git stole a pile of my (not very valuable) earrings some years ago – including one pair given to me by my parents when I was 21 and a very old pair that had come from my godmother. I was gutted. It’s not the monetary value that matters one bit.