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The burglars took nothing and everything

Washington Post editor Michael Bolden's home was burglarized earlier this month. Here is his story:

The company that monitors my house alarm called shortly before 5 p.m. on a recent Wednesday.

I didn't think much of it at the time: Something had tripped a sensor at my home in the suburbs, and the alarm company was dispatching the police. I wondered if my partner had left a door ajar, but I was convinced there was an explanation that would make this nothing more than a passing irritant.

The follow-up call 10 minutes later changed all that. Prince George’s police were on the scene; one door had been forced open and a pane broken in another.

Some collateral damage (Michael D. Bolden/Post).

The trip home went by in a blur, as I cursed myself for having taken the Metro to work that day, for living somewhere it took 40 minutes to get to. I wondered about our dog, our cats, and what I would find.

When I pulled up, the night was pulsing with the lights from so many police cars that I lost count. Drivers were having trouble getting by on our narrow lane. There were police cars parked on the street, a car blocking the drive and several in the turnaround near the house.

They caught ‘em, I thought. They caught someone and killed him in the house!

What else could explain the heavy police presence? Plus, they wouldn’t let me in since my partner had already arrived home.

After 15 minutes or so, the officer in the drive gave the all clear, and the police started to pull away. It turned out that when the first unit had responded to the alarm at dusk, lights began popping on as timers began to give the house a lived-in look, and he called for backup.

I had been resassured by the presence of so many police, but once they were gone, the reality hit. We had two doors that needed immediate repairs, one of our cats was missing, and the dog was 90 pounds of agitated black fur — plus, we discovered the burglars had made a weak attempt to poison him.

I’ve given people sympathetic nods when it’s happened to them. I’ve muttered platitudes about how sorry I was, but I never understood what a burglary does to you.

We had done everything right, I thought. We had an alarm installed in our house. There were warnings posted all around. A car was parked in the drive. We had timers set to go on and off. And yet, it wasn’t enough.

Someone chose to disregard all of the signs, thinking there might be something inside worth taking a risk.

Whether they were kids looking for an easy opportunity, or drug-addled perps searching for a way to buy their next fix, we’ll probably never know. Whoever they were, they caused chaos in our lives. They left us and the animals jittery. We’re left trying to make modern repairs in an old house where nothing is a standard size.

In the end, they took nothing — except our sense of security.

-- Michael Bolden

By Washington Post editors  |  December 14, 2009; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  Personal Safety , Pr. George's  
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I feel your pain . . . I had the same thing happen to me in January of this year. I have an alarm system and the signs posted, but now a days apparently that's not enough to deter people from breaking into your home. I think the theives know that they can get in and out of your house before the police show up. In my case they went straight to my bedroom to snatch jewelry, but only took a pair of earings an ankle bracelet. At first it did really shake my sense of comfort with my house, my neighborhood and my decision to continue to live in Prince George's County.(I've lived here for 13 years) I decided I wouldn't let these "kids" (the police suspect it was a group of kids)make me change my opinion of the house that I have spent so much time making my own. Even though I fought the idea of making my house look like a prison, I put security doors and windows on the lower level of the house and have finally regained that sense of comfort that you should when you are home. There are a lot security doors and windows now that don't make you feel like you're a prisoner in your own home. I also got timers for the lamps in my house.

Posted by: JB44 | December 14, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The scary thing about that is the person(s) who did that rpobaly lives somewhere near your house and you've probably walked pass them as you walked your dog.

Check out your surroundings at all times and try not to use the same routines each day. The timers and animals don't mean anything if that person has cased out your house.

Posted by: ENJOYA | December 14, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

You all are so weak...Get over it..How about people who live in rough neighborhoods that can't afford security systems. They go about there lives just fine without being scared like you are...And to the writer of this article, why are you all shaken up? Be thankful nobody was killed and move on.

Posted by: cochees114 | December 14, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

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