Lifestyle

How does it feel to be burgled?

On the 25th November, I was burgled.

At 2am I heard my boyfriend running up the stairs. He burst into my room and said ‘I think we’ve been burgled’. After looking out of the window, he added ‘and they’ve taken our car…’.

One of the cats had woken him up and he’d gone downstairs to lock her in. He’d found the cupboards all open, lights on and door ajar. He thought that I had gone outside until he found me asleep in bed.

I came downstairs and nothing was really different but there was stuff missing. They hadn’t made a mess, I guess because it makes noise.

I felt grateful that they hadn’t hurt the cats, or done anything weird in my house. It seems strange now that I thought that but I was in denial.

You can feel your stomach clench with each thing that isn’t there. Luckily, they had only done our kitchen and living room and not ventured upstairs.

They’d take my bag, my boyfriend’s wallet, two hard drives, a camera lens, my work laptop and the car which had a satnav and car battery charger in it.

They didn’t take my hair straighteners, the TV or the DVD player, but did take the hard drives which I thought was odd. I guess some information would be valuable but it still terrifies me that they have so many photos of me, my CV and some of my writing.

I know this stuff isn’t worth anything, but it’s all so personal and I’m still afraid they’ll find a way to steal my identity.

As part of my admin, I had to cancel my cards, email work about my stolen pass (I later found it in the garden) and the laptop.

I tried calling the police several times and nobody answered. I was bitterly disappointed as the thieves were probably still out turning over houses and this was the only opportunity to catch them.

We had to call out a man to change the locks at 3am as they had our keys. It’s a good job we did because they returned on Sunday to do us over again but couldn’t get in this time.

I was working really long hours on Saturday morning TV show, I had no one to cover me so I had to go in the next day to prep for it. It was awful, juggling my work and phone calls to my insurers.

I tried getting through to 101 again in the morning. It took an hour and I finally got to report the crime. There was barely any point at this stage as so many chances had been missed.

We were 1 of 5 houses that had been burgled over three days. The police didn’t attend despite this, a PCSO popped around and CSI came in to do forensics because we had a footprint in the kitchen.

They didn’t call me back until 5pm to register the crime report by which time the car had been dumped so wasn’t going to ping on any cameras.

The police sent us a letter to say they had no leads and weren’t going to investigate. There was actually a lead, which was that it was by people from my own estate.

We knew this because the car was found by someone on the playing fields. They told us on Facebook and we told the police. If the police had been patrolling they might have had the chance to catch them. It is a commonplace to dump stolen cars and set fire to them on the fields. Another missed opportunity.

I’d had the Peugeot for seven years and I always used to complain about how rubbish it was, especially all the times it broke down or needed repairing.

Once it broke down after we’d been on holiday and we were stuck on the motorway near Cambridge, miles from home expecting it to get hit by a truck at any minute.

I’ve driven all around the country in this, looking at birds, driving to shoots, giving people lifts, going home for Christmas, driving my cats to the vets, visiting friends and getting away from the madness of Manchester.

It’s weird how a car is part of your family, this was my first ever car and I’ve had it for seven years. I failed my test more times than I can admit so I was really happy to get this car.

I was thrilled to drive it around on my own and really upset with myself whenever I made a mistake in my driving. I didn’t really think I cared that much about this car until that picture was posted on Facebook. A rusty shell, not fit for anything. Such a total waste, driven just a quarter of a mile from my home.

I hate that it was used to commit crimes against my neighbours and set on fire to destroy the evidence by people I have walked past in the street. Ultimately this is life, but I’m sad I wasn’t to the one to say goodbye to my little blue car.

Now, I’ve definitely lost faith in the ability of the authorities to catch criminals. The onus is on homeowners to have their own security systems and spend so much money on keeping their houses safe.

If someone really wants to burgle you, they will. People had tried to break into our house before this and they had been successful when the previous owner lived here. Ultimately, people have to believe there are consequences for their actions. These people weren’t worried about being caught, and they still haven’t been.

Meanwhile, I feel unsafe in my own house, we’ve spent a lot of money on extra security and our car insurance has tripled. It angers me that normal people have to pay for societies ills, both financially and psychologically.

I still wake up in the night, two months later. I just can’t forget what happened. Every morning I open the curtains to check my car is still there. I stay in the office late so I don’t have to take my laptop home. I’m terrified about leaving something unlocked or on display. I check everything ten times and I still feel unsure if everything is secure.

The one good thing was that people were so sympathetic and supportive. Our friends brought us food and came round for meals to make us feel safe. So many people told us they would hate it if it happened to them. It is a real violation and if I could afford to, I would move.

Three men walked past my house the other day and I thought, was it them? That’s the problem with living with the criminals. They see me lock my gate every night and my fear is nothing to them.

Even though I’ve made jokes about this, there is no funny side knowing that they will try again. Today, a house on my estate was burgled during the day. We can only hope that they will get so arrogant, that they will be easy to catch. Until then, the amount of victims is rising and living here becomes more unbearable.

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