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Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Just When You Thought It Was Safe...
...something slaps you right in the face to remind you that it isn't.

My neighborhood is a nice neighborhood. It's upper middle class, if such a thing exists any longer, and has a beautiful neighborhood park. It's relatively quiet and out of the way, Halloween is never disruptive, and kids walk to school with no troubles.

Even so, we keep an eye on things because that is what you do in an increasingly violent world - or so the evening news tells us.

I read the police blotter for the county. Mostly because there is usually something interesting in the blotter that's worth commenting on - like the resident who once found a woman taking a nap in his house, or the woman in a black pantsuit removing political signs from lawns. Usually they're burglary related.

Then I read one last week that mentioned a very familiar street name. Apparently an intruder tried to kick in the front door of a house belonging to a woman who was home at the time in the 10pm hour the night before. That's when I decided to check that very familiar street name. That very close, cross street to my own street style street name. Google maps confirmed that the street name was the only one in my town.

I sat back and realized that I knew exactly which house this was, exactly which neighbor it was. A single, slightly older than middle aged, successful realtor whose lawn I have envied from time to time and I've seen her work on it inch by inch when I've been with the kids in the park. And that was confirmed when I saw a security alarm company van in her driveway a few hours later. Her door looked fine - I guessed at a stupid burglar kicking once and finding someone home. I figured 'better safe than sorry' with regards to her putting in an alarm system and put it out of my mind.

Until yesterday. Yesterday DH received a neighborhood email that detailed what the neighbor knows about what happened. Specifically, there were shoe marks and sand on her door which means he was waiting in the park. That the intruder kicked and kicked at the solid core door she had installed last year and while it looks fine from the outside, the inside tells the story that had he kicked one more time the door would probably have given way. That she had gotten home just a short time prior to this happening. That she is now taking a weapons course to be able to carry and fire a handgun.

This is in my neighborhood. 7 houses down the block from me, and a fellow "edge of the park" home owner. How does something like this happen? Burglars will use one solid swift kick to gain entry to a house via a front door (it's the most popular method to gain entry if something isn't obviously open), but not generally in this neighborhood. They will look for a way in through the back of the house. The thing that gets me and DH is that the intruder kicked multiple times - that says he was intent on getting into *that* particular house with *that* particular resident. Knowing that she was home makes it more scary.

We think it's someone that knows her, probably through her business. That's minor comfort considering the circumstances knowing that it's less likely that we would be targeted. Which, actually, would make more sense since we're at the less populated end of the park with a street for an easy getaway just steps away where the... I hate using the word victim for my neighbor, I really do, but there isn't another word for it. Where she lives in the map of the neighborhood she's got the short end of the park across the street, neighbors on both sides who are always around and her backyard backs up against another neighbor with kids who is around often as well.

My neighbors? They keep to themselves inside their house (as do we) and we never really have those end of the driveway discussions when something is going on. We're more likely to have those with a neighbor down the street, or the one diagonal from us across the park (because our kids walk together to school). But I'm digressing, if only slightly. This happened in my nice quiet neighborhood filled with kids and a beautiful peaceful park.

It's hard to swallow - and anyone who reads this blog who has been to my house knows the neighborhood is peaceful and lovely. While it happened to a neighbor and I say that I put it out of my mind, I haven't. Every night since I read that blotter item I've been a little more vigilant and attentive to noises I hear outside. Two nights ago when we received the email from the neighbor whose front door was attacked we went to bed and I asked DH if we had re-locked the front door because neither of us checked when we went up to bed (he checked, and yes, someone had after putting the newspaper out for recycling earlier). So yes, it really was still at the back of my mind.

But it underscores something very important. No neighborhood is perfectly safe. I knew this but I think I forgot it along the way because nothing had happened even with a park across the street instead of houses there. I got complacent about the idyllic setting. I. Did. Not. Think. This. Could. Happen. Here.

That's my failing. It could happen anywhere. The evening news should have taught me that my now because "this is an ever increasingly dangerous world" we live in, right? Because you should not live with illusions of safety - and I don't generally because I have an alarm system, baseball bats, and knives. The guns are locked up somewhere that I can never recall the combination to, and I used to have a dog - which I have always thought to be the best protection ever. This makes me miss my doggie even more...

... and reminds me that you can never ever be too careful when it comes to protecting your home.