Anyone who has been the victim of a home invasion knows the greatest suffering isn’t caused by the loss of money or jewelry or expensive electronics.
It’s the unnerving breach of peace and privacy that cuts deepest.
Earlier this summer, my family and I hooked up the travel trailer and headed out of town for a much-anticipated week at the lake with my cousin, her husband and their one-year-old son.
After more than 300 km of driving, we pulled into our sites and eagerly set up camp. After supper, we put the kids down to bed, cracked some cold ones and circled around the campfire.
Everyone was just settling into the peaceful camping groove when my cousin’s cellphone rang. It was her sister back in Red Deer.
She had stopped by the house to pick up some things and discovered the house had been ransacked by an intruder. Several items were missing, including pieces of heirloom jewelry and a computer full of precious family photos.
Their family’s long-awaited summer vacation was ruined before it even began.
Our travel companions had no choice but to cut their trip short, pack up and drive back to Red Deer to deal with police reports and take stock of missing items.
Amanda and I decided to stay behind and try to enjoy the rest of the trip on our own.
As we said our goodbyes, my cousin said something that really stuck with me in the days following.
“What bothers me most is knowing that some stranger was in our house, our bedroom, our son’s room.”
I tried to imagine how I’d feel if it was our home that had been invaded.
I also fantasized about the hurt I’d inflict on the SOB if I ever caught up with him.
Many home invasion victims have long-term difficulty coping with the feelings of fear, anger and vulnerability that follow. I seriously doubt the cowardly perpetrators ever stop to contemplate the anguish their actions cause their victims, because most human beings are not prone to such deliberate acts of cruelty.
Wanting some good to come out from their own misfortune, my cousin asked me to share some words of warning for other homeowners.
• Back up your pictures. Burn them to disc. Keep a copy at a friend’s house.
• Put valuables that cannot be replaced (e.g. jewelry, coins, stamps, etc.) in the firebox or at least hide them in a place a robber would not look.
• If you have a sliding patio door, take every measure to secure it. Police say patio doors are the No. 1 entry point for robbers looking to access a home.
“I think we got a little complacent,” she said. “We live in a quiet neighbourhood with families and older couples living around us. It’s easy to forget that we live in a big city and anything can happen to anyone. You never know who is watching you pack up your stuff as you leave your house.”
Leo Paré is the Advocate’s online editor. Reach him by email at email@example.com or follow hom on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LeoPare.