Last Monday at 1:00 I came in from the garage before my husband, and had barely registered the fact that, for some ridiculous reason, I had left my office light on when, right behind me, John said, “The office light is on.”

I put an armload of grocery bags on the floor and headed for my office, feeling really stupid and a bit bewildered.  I never go off leaving office lights on, and as for the ceiling light–with its expensive and hard-to-find bulbs?  Make that double never.  But, it seemed (impossibly),  I done it anyway.

I walked past the bedroom hall, noticing the floor there only briefly, went in the office, turned off the light. Only then did the hall floor register.  A single winter glove lay on blue carpet.

“John, someone has been here,” I said, surprised at how calm, cool, and collected I felt.

At first glance, there were few signs we had had “The Visitor.”  But, as we began to search, signs of the intrusion were everywhere.  Most drawers had been tumbled and then closed, but three were such a mess they wouldn’t close.  My jewelry chest was emptied on top of my dresser. Two windows were partly open.  Two doors had been unlocked, one was pulled slightly open.  (Deputies said the windows had probably been open so The Visitor could hear our car coming down the unpaved lane.) Drawers in my closet/dressing room, including those holding costume jewelry, were disturbed–you could see the mess through the clear plastic fronts. I still haven’t found anything missing there.

After I called the sheriff’s office for our county, we began a cautious and more careful walk-through survey while we waited for deputies.  John and I didn’t talk much, just called out a list of missing items or disturbances as we found them.

John:  (From his office upstairs.)  “My Nook Tablet is gone, and my bag of cash for book sales. It had $100 in it. The laptop is here, though.”

Radine:  “Glassware is tumbled out of the cabinet in the kitchen. Nothing broken.

John: “The gold ring with my initials that you gave me.”

Radine: “They didn’t take the gold charm bracelet I left on the bathroom counter. Thank God for that. Every charm means a lot. ”

John: “I was wearing my gold chain necklace.”

Radine: “The bottom drawer of the small jewelry chest in the guest room is entirely empty, and I can’t remember what was in it.”

And so it went. I’m sure we’ll still be finding something missing even a year or more from now.
This was not the first time.  Many years ago our home in Tulsa was broken into and robbed while we were at work.  A window was broken to give access. Inside, the intruder used a kitchen knife to break a larger hole in my treasured pink china piggy bank where the coin slot was.  Coins were, it was obvious, removed through the hole. The pig’s snout, an easily removable cork with a ring in it, was undisturbed.  Funny.  I recall watches were stolen, some money, but that’s about all I still remember about the “take.”

We had wrought iron bars put on accessible windows, I mended the pig, and life went on.  But I felt as if our home had been raped, and I had somehow been violated myself. That memory is still clear.

What’s even more interesting is that I felt none of that this time. I didn’t even feel anger at the intruder. There was no vandalism and, other than the almost-hidden search everywhere (there were those spilled glasses, the three drawers that wouldn’t shut, and the tell-tale glove on the floor), no other visible sign of The Visitor except for unlocked windows and doors.) The window used to gain access wasn’t even harmed.  The Visitor used a garden tool to force the window open, but it gave without breaking. My pink pig was set out of its niche, but it held its original quarters, and the cork was still in place.

The deputies asked if we wanted them to check for fingerprints.  I said I was sure every grade school child would know enough to wear gloves for this type of thing, checking anything except for the tool used to gain access would not be necessary.  They agreed, so I was spared black, greasy smudges all over the house.  (No fingerprints on the tool. Of course not.)

What about drugs, probably, the deputies suggested, the primary reason for the invasion?  Nope, unless you count Tylenol.  They left that, and a some almost-empty allergy medication forgotten by a guest.

Honestly?  I think The Visitor was interrupted when our car turned into the rocky drive to our house in the hollow.  Why?  I initially typed in my preliminary report that I was missing a gold stick pin, a large repousse heart necklace charm on a chain, and my brother’s gold color Navy insignia.  When I had time to check more thoroughly, I found those three items in a black velvet bag still among the mess on the dresser.  There are other signs that hint at a hasty exit out the back door and through the woods to a car up on the road somewhere.

We have taken new precautions, followed some ideas suggested by the deputies.  I occasionally feel a twinge of concern when we both leave home for errands. But, over all, there is a lot to be grateful for.  For one thing, as we straighten up, we are filling bag after bag with excess “stuff” to take to the “Care and Share” shop in town.  We have The Visitor to thank for that.



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19 Responses to “THE MONDAY VISITOR”

  1. Terry Says:

    You are fortunate to have lost fewer than you may have had you been away longer. And your response to this invasion – to take excess ‘stuff’ to be donated to those less fortunate … it speaks to the nature of your character, and your husband’s as well. Bless you both.

    • radine Says:

      Terry, your kind words touched both John and me. Thank you. (If we’re speaking about the nature of people, the comment was typical Terry.)

      Bill, the glove was mine. Believe it or not, I have a small four-drawer chest in that hall, and ALL of it was stuffed with winter gloves–work gloves, and gloves to match every coat I have or ever have had plus a few extras. (I am embarrassed to admit this–the amount stunned even me.) Believe me, most of them will be warming other hands this coming winter. That’s just one of many bags going to our area Care and Share store to aid people in need. (We have five bags by the back door, have already taken three into town. Sock drawers (winter and general) coming up next. Before I start on the socks I’ll say in defense that I haven’t worn a dress in years, always wear flat-heeled “sensible” shoes, never wear panty hose, and normally wear socks with my dressy slacks, ordinary slacks, and jeans. Different sock weights in summer and winter, that’s all. I am discovering that I have been quite a hoarder. Maybe “hard times” mentality? Get plenty while you can so you’ll have it when needed? Another reason (excuse) is that so many products and items I like end up being replaced by “new and improved” these days, and often new and improved is of lesser quality. I do still have a few wearable clothing items from my high school days. Only problem is anything from that era has to be ironed. Polyester blends with cotton was one very good “new and improved.”

  2. bill morris Says:

    Radine, We are so concerned about your “breakin”. If the glove was the only item left, was it yours or your husbands? If not do you suppose the thief left it and there might be fingerprints? Just a thought! Marietta and Bill morris

  3. Marja McGraw Says:

    Radine, I was burglarized twice in a two-week period many years ago. Interesting, after reading your post, but they did take my allergy medication. ??? And, yes, I felt violated, too. I’m so sorry this has happened to you.

    The one bright spot for me was that I had a miniature toy poodle at the time and they didn’t harm the dog or let him out.

  4. jennymilch Says:

    You describe the violation, and the shock over even the mundane disturbances, as only a writer could. Thanks for sharing your experience, Radine…and I hope it never happens to you again!

  5. Radine Trees Nehring Says:

    Jenny, I think my reaction to this latest home invasion was very strongly influenced by the fact that I research and write about crime.

    Marja, I needed to speak with the editor of a magazine that had just done a feature about me because I wanted to get extra copies, While we were chatting I mentioned the burglary. The first thing she said was “Did they harm any pets? I thought her concern was touching, and doubly so now that you mention your toy poodle!

    We have no pets currently so it wasn’t an issue here. (Though a couple of deer mothers and fawns are around here so much they are almost pets. Of course the fawns are teens now.)

  6. Kaye George Says:

    I know what this is like! We weren’t so lucky with a home burglary a few years ago–all the electronics, all my good jewelry, musical instruments, both cars, and on and on. It’s a horrible feeling! The last straw, for me, was that they used a pillow case from each bedroom, apparently to hold swag, and we were left with several sets of sheets without all the pillowcases. Silly to be so mad about that, with everything else. I was freaking out and my oldest son said, “Mom, it’s just stuff.” I love my kids!

  7. Lelia Taylor Says:

    Radine, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I had a burglary once, probably 20 years ago, and they took all our electronics, liquor, jewelry and cash. I had left a window slightly open—shame on me—but I really thought it was OK because it was daytime, the window was visible to more than one neighbor, and we’d left our 95-pound Lab in the room with the open window. Apparently, Josie invited the burglars in 😉

    • radine Says:

      Lelia, I am amazed about the dog! Not necessarily that she didn’t eat them alive, but that they entered after seeing a dog of that size! I guess she must have greeted them with a smile. Do you suppose they fed her a treat?

      • Lelia Taylor Says:

        I’ve always suspected that the perps were “friends” of my then-teenaged daughter and had met the dog before. Josie had a quirk, though—would bark like crazy if any of us were outside and someone approached but, if we were inside, any Tom, Dick or Harry could come in. Nice for contractors, etc., not so much for the mailman or for us if we’d been home when the burglars came. 95 pounds of marshmallow-covered guard dog 😉

  8. Radine Trees Nehring Says:

    Kaye, what a truly dreadful experience. It seems so sad to me that the only reason I didn’t lose good jewelry is because I leave 99% of it in my safe deposit boxes, keeping at home only a few things I wear all the time, plus trying to anticipate costumes for special occasions so I can bring home jewelry that fits. That we should be reduced to this! And I suppose you had to fill out the same pages of forms our insurance adjustor just sent me, doing copious research on values. May we share a hug?

    Wish I could send you matched pillow cases! I wonder if our invader used grocery bags! I went and checked pillow cases after reading your note and all seem present and accounted for.

    • kaye george Says:

      Yes, we sure can share a hug! The whole situation was tragic. One of the robbers knew my son (and that we kept a key in a fake rock). He went on to a life of crime and committed suicide within a few years. xoxoxo

  9. sandyn1949 Says:

    Oh, Radine. I know how you feel. This happened to me some years back when I lived out in the country. Even my lingerie drawer had been riffled and items taken from it. Frozen food from the freezer and candy in a bowl disappeared, as well as, a Belgian made rifle and other expensive goods. I slept with a gun beneath my pillow and carried it with me if I woke up and needed to use the bathroom. It is a truly horrifying experience. Many warm hugs to you.

    • radine Says:

      Thanks to so many here and on several Facebook groups for the kind sympathy, sharing of similar experiences endured, and hugs. I am warmed by the friendship coming in from all directions, and from many people I have not and never will meet face-to-face. May all in Sandy’s path feel shared friendship and help equal to their various needs as well!

    • radine Says:

      Sandy, your experience was indeed horrifying. I think I can share what you felt about the lingerie drawer! Did you wash everything? I did. Somehow that invasion was especially, disturbing.

  10. Pat Browning Says:

    Radine, were they looking for gold? With the price so high that sounds like a possibility. But whatever, he or she or they had no right to break in and steal.The only good thing is that they didn’t break in while you were at home! Do you and your hubby have a gun and know how to use it?

    • radine Says:

      Pat, to bring you “up to date.” The deputies said they would have been looking for drugs and money, plus anything that could be quickly converted to money. (Which would cover the two heavy gold rings of my husband’s that were taken.) In any case, other than his Nook tablet, his rings, and his change bag for times we sell books ourselves, no large value items we can think of are missing. I believe the person heard our tires scattering stone as we came down our lane into the hollow, and hightailed it away through tbe woods. One reason to support that is that three semi-good antique (but not real gold) pieces of mine had been put in an empty jewelry bag, and I found that left among dumped items on my dresser top. Several “gold” chains of mine were taken but they weren’t really gold. As I mentioned before, I leave most all my valuable jewelry (from past years when I went to work in a retail high-dollar shop every day) in the bank now, and rarely, if ever, wear any but one or two fairly good pieces I always have on when I leave home. Those few wouldn’t be worth the risk and trouble of a home invasion. My favorite is my grandmother’s wedding ring with engraving: “D and D – Jan 13, ’92.” (That’s 1892.) I wear it all the time on my right hand, and my own simple gold wedding band on my left. The typewriter necklace I wear consistently is costume jewelry, my watch came from Target years ago. And there you have it.

  11. Brenda Says:

    Radine — I am so terribly sorry to hear this and am sending hugs and best wishes that you can stay zenned out about it as you seem to be.

    I trust you will get new locks, etc. & whatever other protections you may think of in case they plan on coming back (and to give any others pause)?

    Some of the cameras are very cheap now that are available for monitoring if you don’t have any already. The ones that New Orleans French Quarter residents were being urged to buy to help the police catch street attacks were like $10 each. (I think mention of it may still be in an archived version of www dot nocrimeline dot com or the journalist who used to run that site would certainly remember.

    During my uncle’s funeral someone stole stuff from my grandmother’s old house (not the new house) including the HUGE old trunk that had my uncle and father’s school report cards and heaven knows what else I still think of often. How many genealogical treasures were lost that day? I still think of it often. After the delayed announcement of my father’s funeral we all just missed a burglar who didn’t leave the house (by the front door apparently) while several of us were walking in the back.

  12. radine Says:

    Brenda, thanks so much for the information about cameras. We have taken precautions along that line but more can never hurt. I will go to the site you suggest.

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