After 26 years living in the same house, my parents finally became a statistic of crime this week. I know; that sounds a bit like I’m boasting, and I can promise you I’m not – at least not about being a crime stat.
Fortunately I’m much, much more than just a pretty face, and earlier this year I decided to put the house contents on my insurance. Since moving back here five years ago, it only makes sense that I protect my own stuff too. Unfortuantely it seems that I got my father’s share of common sense, since he thought it quite normal to leave the house, with the broken window and blatant lack of activated alarm, when he was supposed to be replacing the broken window and put up wiring on the back wall. So yes, we became a double statistic – twice in two days.
What boggles the mind is the modus operandi. Firstly, they deemed it quite normal and within their rights to rip open all the gifts I wrapped on Sunday. That’s it . Just rip it all open, see what’s in there, moving on. And not all the presents there either, mind you. Apparently my birthday present was there as well, but they didn’t touch that.
My heart breaks for my nephew, who at ten finds the situation very disturbing. Grown ups have various coping mechanisms, but I’m not sure he’s processing the loss adequately. He’s a very intelligent and extremely serious little man, and the majority of the items stolen from the house either belong to him, or directly affect him. His cell phone, the computer and external hard drive with all his games, his two bicycles and some of his clothes.
Despite having our home and privacy violated, I didn’t feel too affected. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely upset on Monday when my mother called me with the news, but nothing of mine was stolen or damaged. Of course I did not sleep well on Monday night with the broken window. I was infuriated at how other people make you feel so vulnerable in your own supposed safe haven. However when the culprits returned on Tuesday, the entered my room, went through EVERY SINGLE container in my room – cupboards, boxes (even ones stored behind the portable airconditioner that I can’t even access without moving everything), drawers, bags. Due to the space limitations and the pattern of their destruction, we assume the thieves are kids. But they didn’t take any of the sweets in my room. They also didn’t take any of my jewellery, and I found a little bottle of vodka I got as a present some time ago still sealed on my bed. They did play around with the wigs I got for Sisters with Blisters last year, and the one thing they stole from me can never be replaced: the only tangible thing I had left of my late grandfather – a commemorative Voortrekker Monument pocket watch. It wasn’t a particularly pretty thing, I’ll be honest, and I might not have realised it was gone for a very long time if they didn’t take it out of its box and left the box on the floor.
I’ve been affected by crime before – two years ago my car was broken into and my car radio extracted. I was angry then too, although not a fraction of much I’d like to smack someone now. And yet, I have no desire to leave this country.
I firmly believe that crime is something that takes place in every country on every continent; the difference is that many places don’t focus on this aspect (and for this the media is partly to blame – partly because yes, it is important to inform people of what is going on, but the way it is done, with sensationalist headlines and often distorting information, is not conducive to a positive attitude). Importantly I think it is the attitude with people that lead them to cope with circumstances, or to flee and look for “greener” pastures abroad.
My initial response to the news on Monday was through a skewed attitude and distorted sense of responsibility. I felt that my life was just starting to make a turn around after years of unhappiness and this week was supposed to be my week of awesomeness, and this is my punishment for trying to be optomistic and carefree. But when I thought about it a little more I mentally smacked myself uptop the noggin. Everything is not about me, even if it affects me. Although I’ve experienced a loss through this incident, I’m still me. I still have the precious values my mother raised me on, I still have my fabulous new (okay not so new any more) job, my health, family and friends. Sure helping my parents put our house back together again is affecting my aimed debt paying plan, and I’m losing my no claims bonus, but somethings money just can’t buy. Unlike my grandfather’s watch.