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The Break-in…

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Saturday the 16th of January was fun… up until 2pm, that is.

M & I had attended our nephew and Godson’s 6th birthday party, which was fun. We came back home briefly, to let the dogs out, as they had been in the house. Michael even paused briefly to unplug his laptop’s charging cable – an act which was to prove crucial later, while trying to piece together what had happened.

Then we went to join his parents for a quick eat-out for lunch. It took us less than an hour, and then we were back home.

Everything was as we had left it, when we let ourselves in. The dogs, who were inside the house again while we were out, were sleeping at the front door. Actually, the front security-gate, as the wooden door was left open for them.

I put my handbag down on the table, still not noticing anything amiss. Then I spotted a huge, bloated tick on Beary’s ear, and freaked out a bit. We got the tick off, and then decided to put the Frontline we had bought on the dogs there and then. I went out into our back garden to put on latex gloves and get the ampules ready to put the anti-tick stuff on the dogs.

While I was doing that, Michael (who was in the house) called to me that he couldn’t find his laptop.

I pretty much ignored this, because Michael is always misplacing something. If it’s not his car-keys, then it’s his house-keys, or his wallet, or his ID book, or something. Added to that, his laptop is often on the move, as he regularly takes it to work with him.

A minute later, he said, “My love, I’m starting to get really worried about my laptop. It’s not here.”

Distractedly, I called back, “I’ll come and help you look for it now now.”

And as we all know, ‘now now’ can mean anything from ‘in the next half  hour’ to ‘sometime tomorrow’.  🙂

Basically, I wasn’t taking it seriously.

But then he added, “Yours is gone, too.”


That got my attention. I went running inside, and for the first time, it dawned on me how empty our dining-room table was looking. Normally, both our laptops are on it, but they were both gone.

I didn’t immediately think of theft – I was just mystified. It took a while for the penny to drop, and for Michael to say, tentatively, “I think we’ve been robbed.”

It was a bit much to take on board. There was no sign of forced entry – or any kind of entry, for that matter. And only the laptops were gone.

But gone they certainly were.

We had accept that we had indeed been robbed, and I phoned my brother-in-law, who is a captain in the police. He arrived at our house within minutes, as they live just down the road.

He did a thorough investigation, and when we went with him outside, to the bit of ground beside our palisade fence, he immediately spotted the small, bare footprints, leading up to the fence. He pointed out how the big toe dug into the soil, as its owner jumped up to gain purchase on the fence as he climbed over it.

Back into the house, and now we discovered that the window in the bathroom was open, as well as both windows in the spare-room. We never open the windows in the spare-room, ever, and we always keep the door closed, which was why we hadn’t immediately noticed the open windows, as the door had still been closed.

Back into the garden, where a garden-chair directly outside the window had been bumped right over, no doubt when the window had been opened from the inside.

Lying on the grass, next to tone of my rose-pots, was a dishcloth from our kitchen. I thought nothing of this, but later I realised that it was highly unlikely that the dogs had brought it outside, as they have never done that and the dishcloths are out of their reach, anyway. My brother-in-law said that scraps of cloth or old T-shirts are nearly always found at the scene of such a crime, for the removal of finger prints.

The most likely explanation that he could arrive at, was that the little thief (aided by an adult accomplice, whose footrints were also visible) squeezed in through one of the open windows in the house. He then went into the open-plan living room, and saw the laptops on the table. They are apparently high in demand on the black market. He took the laptops (as well as Michael’s laptop’s charger, which was lying on top of it) At this point, he either saw the dogs sleeping at the front door, or they became aware of him. This was when he went into the spare-room, closed the door behind him and exited out of one of the windows, bumping over the garden chair.

We reckon we would have been cleaned out if it wasn’t for the dogs! There was plenty more to steal – the tv, the SPS3, the dish decoder etc.

It is also possible that we arrived home and his accomplice warned him to get out.

We will most likely never know what happened. Only that there was someone in our house (horrible thought) and they took our laptops.

We felt very yuck about it for at least a week.

It has been a very eye-opening experience, though. The burglar proofing on our windows is, in fact, not burglar proof!!! The gaps are deceptively large. My 6 year old nephew, who is sturdily built for his age, fitted through the bars on the windows with absolute ease, three times in quick succession. An older child, or youth would have little difficulty gaining entrance simularly.

So we are going to have an extra row of bars put in each window to minimise the gap, and make it impossible for anyone, no matter how small, to get in! And we’re going to join a security company, maybe have some beams put up.

What a way to live, yet for most South Africans it is scarily normal.

Fortunately, our insurance paid out the value of our two laptops and we were able to replace them.

A lot of data has been lost, however, leaving us a bit shell-shocked. We were able to salvage some of the data from our old desk-top computer, which had some back-ups on it (actually rather more than I had initially thought, bonus!)

There is a small amount of valuable data for both of us that has been irreplacably lost 😦 

But we both agree that things could have been so much worse. We are very lucky victims indeed!

Written by Maggie

January 26, 2012 at 9:13 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. What a horrible experience. Being robbed is never fun, it takes a long time for those feelings of having ones personal space invaded to subside!


    January 26, 2012 at 9:54 am

    • Hi Sharon,

      Too right! It takes us about ten minutes every time we leave the house to close all the windows, etc. The poor dogs are roasting in the house, because we are too scared to leave them outside while we’re out in case they get poisoned.

      Still, Michael is really happy with his replacement computer. Mine is about the same, but his is much better in terms of specs, because his laptop was getting a bit on in years, lol. So at least there is a tiny silver lining 😉



      January 26, 2012 at 10:43 am

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