The Tale of Two Burglaries

We had just moved to a new city and were visiting with old friends at their home when our happy chatter was pierced by a shrieking alarm.

The owner of the house, a long-term resident of an area considered a ‘rough’ part of town, had a heightened sense of urgency and sprinted out the door to see a couple of ‘youths’ rummaging through our brand new car. The thieves were fast on their feet but our mate and my husband were faster, bigger, louder and more determined. The speedy young bandits dropped what they had grabbed from our car – a pair of sunglasses and a petrol receipt – and darted off into the darkness.

What struck me at the time were two things: (1) We had literally just arrived. We were all still standing inside the front door greeting each other, so we had not been inside more than two minutes which meant the thieves made their move quickly and unexpectedly; and (2) I did not recognize the sound of my own car’s alarm, I did not even consider that the alarm was for MY property or that I should even check it out.

Spooked by the break-in we traded in our 4WD for a small city run-about that wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. A month later there was another break-in, but this time it wasn’t our car. Our vehicle was always garaged in a secure residential carpark under our apartment building. One morning we arrived to our car to find a large amount of glass on the ground – the vehicle parked next to ours had been burgled, ours was completely untouched.

What struck me on this occasion was that the burgled car was littered with clothes, papers, empty wrappers, toys on the dashboard and crystals hanging from the rear vision mirror. In comparison, our car was (for once) immaculate – because it was brand new we had not yet accumulated anything inside.

The tale of these two burglaries has some notable lessons:

DON’T TEMPT YOUR BROTHER – For thieves, all that shimmers is actually gold. Our 4WD, while merely a lower-end-of-the-market make, was big, shiny and new and perhaps the sunglasses on the console sparkled under the street lights. And, with the volume of contents inside our neighbour’s vehicle the odds were in the thief’s favour of there being something of value? There was simply too much glittery temptation for a robber to resist.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS, RANDOMLY – In the first scenario, the thieves would not have known we would be there but must have seen us arrive and made some assumptions about how long we would stay – they were already looking for an opportunity (they had a screwdriver) and only needed seconds to get into any car that looked enticing. They didn’t count on the car alarm actually being effective though. Our neighbour was the only unlucky one in a secure carpark of some 50 vehicles.

ARE YOU IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT? – Our mistake was a small but crucial one: knowing very well that the neighbourhood was not the safest, we should have taken that next level of precaution and parked in our friend’s driveway right next to the house, but for whatever reason we parked on the street.

BE ALERT TO ALARMS – How many times have you heard an alarm and ignored it? The quick response of our friend to the alarm meant that nothing was lost.

Thankfully, Church employees are becoming increasingly aware of the risks of leaving valuables inside vehicles and the number of losses from theft from motor vehicle has reduced over the last few years. However, it is still essential that vigilance remains high as anything stolen from a vehicle is not always protected by cover, and having a car window smashed is not only a hassle but likely an out-of-pocket expense.