09 January 2018

Fury Unleashed

Last November, I blew off steam by writing the blog post below in the hopes I might get some sleep. I was pretty fired up that day, and I think I didn't sleep, even though I tried to vent before head hit pillow.

Now I've had a chance to calm down, and I'm not depressed about what happened anymore. I've rewritten the most harsh portions of the post, but there are nuggets of gold here and there buried within the trauma. There are things we all can do to be safe in our homes, and that's why I decided to go ahead and share a watered-down version of what I wrote on a very dark day.

My dad woke up this morning to a call from a credit card company. Someone was attempting to make fraudulent charges on my parents' card. Thank heavens it was caught almost immediately, and the charges were not processed.

My dad was somewhat groggy and incoherent when the phone rang, so it took a bit of sunshine and head-clearing for him to realize his wallet was missing. Then he noticed his iPad was missing. Then he noticed every single key in the house was missing.

My mom had alarmed the car the night before. My dad went out to the driveway... the empty driveway...

The burglars had taken the keys, so they were able to de-arm the alarm with ease. My mom's car was gone.

My dad went back inside the house, now wide awake but in a state of unabashed panic. He woke my mom, who now was drowsy and not entirely understanding the gravity of the situation yet.

"We've got to call all the credit card companies! We've got to call the bank! We've got to call the insurance companies!" my dad directed with agitation and frustration.

My mom grabbed her purse from the dresser and went to the kitchen, where she discovered her phone was missing.

By the time both my parents calmed enough to alert police, as if that's even possible in this type of situation, my mom had forgotten she carried her purse into the kitchen. For a short while, both my parents panicked because they thought my mom's purse had been stolen, too. From the bedroom, while they slept. This was just too close for comfort. Literally.

As my parents began checking around the house to find out what else was missing, they realized the burglars indeed had been in the hallway right next to the bedroom. Both my parents are elderly, and my dad is becoming more frail with age. My parents would not have been able to defend themselves.

They realized their little dog had not barked during the night. Then they realized if the burglar(s) had awakened the dog, who had been sleeping with them, all three of them might be dead now.

Thank heavens for humongous miracles.

As the day progressed my parents realized, with the help of police and neighbors, their home (and possibly the entire neighborhood) had been methodically cased for at least two weeks.

I'm writing this because I'm angry my parents have been terrorized and are fearful of living in their own home now. But I'm also writing this to spread knowledge of the depths to which criminals have sunk. If I can help others be safe and not fall victim to this asinine scheme, I will do whatever it takes.

About two weeks before the break-in, my mom went out to the car for her weekly trip to the grocery store. One of the brand new tires was flat. She tried to get the car up on the jack but was unable, so she summoned my dad, who also was unable to accomplish the task.

Three "boys" on bikes appeared out of nowhere and offered to assist. Although they did put the spare on and secure the damaged tire, they also did things my parents now realize made them uncomfortable, but they were so grateful for the help at the time, they didn't notice.

The "boys" verbally noticed my parents' health conditions. They seemed to be too interested in what was inside the car and the backyard, as well as the house. More than once, they pointed out my dad's health. They also seemed to be paying a little too much attention to neighborhood homes.

A couple of days later, police showed up at my parents' house for a wellness check because they'd received a distress call from that location. A couple of days later, it happened again. Then a third time, this time in the middle of the night.

Police now have informed my family this happens when criminals use anonymous disposable cell phones to determine how long it takes for police to arrive at a specific location. The criminals had it down to a science by the third time. I wish someone had figured this out prior to the break-in. Spread the word far and wide. Please don't ever let this happen to you or someone you love.

A couple of days later, my mom returned home from church to find a neighbor at the front door trying to contact my dad, who had not been feeling well. The neighbor had observed one of the "boys" on my nephew's bike with a large bag of "stuff", leaving my parents' backyard. He confronted the "boy", who claimed to be a grandson. The neighbor knew my now married-with-three-kids-of-his-own nephew well enough to accuse the "boy" of lying. The "boy" sped off. The neighbor, also elderly, ran to his car and attempted to chase down the "boy" because the whole situation just didn't seem right. He wasn't able to catch up to the "boy," though. So he'd gone to my parents' front door to alert them.

Police were notified, and descriptions were taken. Losses were minor, and no one felt unsafe. My parents at that time still had not made the connection to the flat tire.

It took the break-in and a more thorough investigation before the police were able to connect all the activity to a deliberate scam.

The "boys" had flattened my mom's brand new tire. They knew neighborhood comings and goings. They knew how much time was required to make a clean getaway. They even knew where car keys were stored and which vehicles were routinely alarmed. One of the "boys" who helped fix the flat tire is the same "boy" who stole the bicycle from the backyard. Police are convinced now these "boys" are the burglars, and the whole experience was premeditated by experienced "boys" who know exactly what they are doing.

I hate to be suspicious of the kindness of strangers, especially in today's world, but now I realize it's necessary. Especially in today's world.

Please be very cautious and alert when help comes out of nowhere. Please never be afraid to contact neighbors or someone you trust when something goes wrong with your vehicle. Please form neighborhood watch programs. Know your neighbors, and watch out for each other.

Please keep an updated list of all your credit cards, and please don't store anything with personal information in your glove compartment. EVER.

Please don't keep your phone, keys, phone, purse and wallet neatly together near the front door or any entrance/exit. Please do not leave credit cards out where they may be seen.

Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of routines that might set you up to be a victim. Shake things up every once in a while. Don't follow the very same routine day after day after day. Make sure elderly and potentially vulnerable friends and loved ones are safe and secure once in a while. Just check on them now and then, and keep the bonds strong and healthy.

And please always make sure to keep in touch with your elderly relatives. Never let an opportunity to express love escape.


  1. Douchebags by the ton. They sure can be elaborate with their plots. Someone may not think at the time indeed with the help out of nowhere, but one has to keep their guard up. That would just be awful having people in your house and realizing how bad things could have gone. Hopefully they were caught.

    1. Not yet, Pat, and I think they've hit another home in the neighborhood, too. How I wish...

  2. Whoa - that is so scary - and so planned... How awful for you and your family.

    1. Thank you, Alycia. It was awful, but we are strong, and we will overcome!

  3. Thank you for this post, Deb. I feel for you all. I know what it's like to have an elderly parent stolen from in a premeditated fashion. Not gonna happen again if I can prevent it.

    I'm so glad your folks weren't hurt.


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