Tuesday, 4 August 2009

LIBERTARIAN SUS: Breaking & entering

Burglary is not just a property crime, says Susan Ryder.

susanryder The feeling occurs straight away. You may not be able to put your finger on it and it might even take a bit longer to register that something is wrong, but you know from the outset that something’s definitely not right.

And then it hits you -- hard. The realisation can be overwhelming and sickening and frightening, all at once. You’ve been burgled.

Other factors come into play, too, such as the extent of the damage and time of discovery; (the darkness always makes things more ominous). And if you’re alone when you discover the circumstances, it can be really horrible.

It’s happened to the homes of my parents and sisters. In fact my little sister’s house was broken into twice in two days while we were in Australia celebrating the wedding of our other sister. That was dandy, my brother-in-law having to cut his holiday short to get back to oversee the situation – and during the Easter break, too, when airline seats were as scarce as brains on The Bachelor. My parents’ store was also burgled on two occasions.

Touch wood, my own experience is limited to my wallet being stolen in Portugal and latterly, my car broken into one evening in Auckland. Driving home afterward was awful. The damage and subsequent theft of property was bad enough, but the thought of an unknown person or persons in my car made my skin crawl. Being penniless in Lisbon was no picnic either, but that’s for another time.

Yesterday I learned that a family friend, an older woman who lives alone, was burgled last Saturday night. She was away; ironically, she was doing an absent friend a good turn by caring for the latter’s home and pets for the night. The perpetrators broke in and ransacked the place, helping themselves to many of her possessions along the way. As a parting shot, they generously left the front door and windows wide open for good measure. She discovered the mess the next morning. Lord only knows when the local police will arrive to file the necessary reports. It took the same police force two months and several reminders to visit my sister back in 2003.

If you haven’t been burgled, it’s difficult to comprehend exactly how it feels. Natural emotions range from frustrated to furious, but worst of all is the knowledge that strangers have been tramping through your home, fingering your belongings and rifling through your cupboards and drawers with callous indifference. My mother couldn’t wait for the police to finish up so she could wash her clothes. She hauled everything out of the dressers and systematically washed the lot. And then she started on Dad’s.

In the following days you walk down the street and wonder “was it him?” or “does she know what I’ve got in my home?” and “they know where I live ... will they come back?”

In the case of our business customers – and they were many – it was hard not to suspect them all, even though I hated myself for it. It’s an awful feeling that stays with you for some time.

Not that the arseholes concerned give a toss about you. They don’t give two hoots that your children might be terrified; that you can’t sleep for worrying; that you jump at every strange sound – especially at night – and automatically brace yourself when pulling up in the driveway for months afterwards. It’s either a professional situation or a bit of fun to them. They’re banking on you being insured, (responsible people are like that); and that your sanctuary has been ruthlessly violated doesn’t occur to them, let alone matter.

Some people don’t consider property crime to be serious, former Police Minister Ann Hercus, for one. Ms Hercus, who went on to become New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United Nations, is on record as saying as much in the late 1980s. To this day, she doubtless believes in more lenient punishment for those who commit property crimes. Those concerned are probably disadvantaged or misunderstood or “had a difficult childhood”, don’t you know. It never ceases to astonish as to how the abuser is of more concern to these clowns than the abused.

So now it’s my friend Lyn’s turn to go through this hateful situation. She’s a sweet, generous person by nature, although right now I imagine she’s rather less concerned with the personal woes of her burglars.

And unlike Ann Hercus, I’m with Lyn.

* * Read Susan’s column every Tuesday here at NOT PC * *


  1. I can relate. I hate the scum who think they are entitled to take things you've had to work hard to earn.

    I've had my home burgled three times, twice a couple of weeks apart just before christmas. Of the things stolen which insurance couldn't replace was the last bottle of wine from my wedding. I've also had my car ripped off, complete with a full load of music equipment (guitars, amps, effects, cables etc) after a gig the previous night which I'd not had time to unload from. The car was joyrided, the gear gone never to be found again, including an old analogue delay pedal which you just can't buy these days. The car was deemed repairable by the insurance company, but I didn't really want it back after that, and sold it as quickly as possible.

    One slightly upbeat tale though. My workmate, Kyle, had his house broken into recently. The little shits went through the whole place, not knowing they were on CCTV the whole time. Kyle presented this footage to the police, who (surprise!) knew exactly who these little buggers were. I'm not sure what the sentence was, but at least Kyle got some sense of justice. And some reparation payments. Always handy! I'd go so far as to say that having seen them, and assisted in catching them, the feeling of invasion of privacy was lessened for him.

  2. Yes, theft is a despicable act. Apart from the victim having to deal with all of the above, what the thief also takes from you is the time it took to work for and buy your posessions. Yes, you can get insurance, (if applicable) that is of course, not the point. You cannot always replace what went and you don't get the true value anyway. I sometimes go to a shop in the city, where a lovely elderly lady has an antique shop. She was burgled about three months ago, and due to camera footage outside, they have a fair idea of who is responsible as this pair of low lifes (male and female) were in her shop, sussing it out, not a week prior and their behaviour/manner suggested they were up to no good. They were rude to boot as well, throwing around the odd F word. She tells me that she will get insurance, but only on what she paid for them, not the time it took her to source said stock, and what of the loss of profit on said items which of course cannot be sold and loss of profit on having to remain closed while the mess is cleaned up and police do their job? I felt really bad for her, and would love to get this pair by the scruff of the neck and give them a good hiding. Can't do that though. Shame.

  3. "..would love to get this pair by the scruff of the neck and give them a good hiding. Can't do that though."
    Well, not openly..;-)

  4. Oh, and another thing. The tragic thing is that one would have to even consider doing this in the first place, but I have my jewellery in different places around the house, and some things locked away in random places. In the garage or under the house are always good places for such things as small items of jewellery that you do not wear all the time. I am having some repairs done in my flat this week, so I have had to surrender my keys while the work is being done during my work hours. I have put all my treasures away, and just have to trust that nothing else will go missing.

    I belive that there has been a break down in values over the past 40-50 years and I blame it on socialism and the 'have and have not' mentality, among other things. There has always been theft of course, but it seems to be much more commonplace these days. My Dad used to tell me when he worked as a music rep for Festival about 40 years ago, he used to have a whole lot of LPs in the back of the car, leave the car unlocked and go into the shop and do the sales thing and have a chat to the shop staff. This could sometimes go on for up to two hours. There was never anything taken from the car (stock or otherwise) and of course the car was not stolen either. They never used to lock their houses when they went out for the day either.

    Finally, sad as it is to say, I have often thought that having nice things these days seems to be a bit of a liablity, i.e. a worry that that some bastard is going to take it off you. I've also been mugged and beaten on the streets of Sydney as well. The mongrels got away with one of my lovely items that could never be replaced, they would have no appreciation for, and took me ages to work and save up for. No insurance (again, not the point).The beating was because I was trying to keep my bag, because I knew what was in there. I suppose all I can be thankful is I was not dragged away with them....


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