Friday, February 16, 2007

Thief in the house!

It all started with a missing pack of cigarettes. I knew I had left them on the kitchen counter but then I could not find them anywhere. Very strange.

We had been busy for almost an hour. Running upstairs to hang laundry. We always leave the back door open. We can’t lock the screen door anyway. Also getting the house in order since O, our cleaning lady, was coming at 1pm. One of the first things I did after getting home from the beach was take Simon’s carrier back upstairs to the spare bedroom/catch all/exercise room. I put it in front of the closed louver doors that cover one of the closets. The other closet is covered with a floor length curtain.

At some point I was on the front porch and noticed movement and bright turquoise color in the water, quite close to shore. I knew instantly that it was a school of parrot fish. They are usually in the shallow waters near downtown but I have never seen them this far south. I yelled for B to grab the binoculars and come take a look. We were on the porch maybe ten minutes.

Show over, we came back into the house. It was then that B noticed that the money we had left on the kitchen counter for O was gone. And, no, I did not take it! Or move it. I asked him if he was sure he put it there. That’s when he checked his wallet which he had also sat on the kitchen counter. Yup. Not a peso to be seen in it! He had gone to the ATM in the morning so with that fresh money, O’s money and what was already in his wallet, it added up to 2400 pesos, or about $240. Gone. Vanished. We looked at each dumbfounded for a second and then it hit us. Somebody had come in through our back door while we were on the front porch! Creepy and maddening at the same time.

I then remembered that I had unlocked L’s office upstairs and had taken my laptop up there. I had some printing to do and that is where the printer is. I raced out the door and up the stairs. Thankfully, nothing had been touched. But I noticed the other bedroom door was wide open. At first I thought that maybe I had not closed it properly. We don’t lock this door either. Mostly crap stored in there anyway. I took a look anyway.

The louver doors were now wide open, Simon’s crate had been moved from in front of them AND there was a big puddle of urine in front of the door, complete with pubic hair floating in it! Disgusting and upsetting. I later figured that whoever came into the house was hiding in there, behind the curtain, when I put the crate in there! Yikes.

I came back downstairs and reported this to R. We locked all the doors behind us and ran to our neighbors two doors down. They have had someone enter there home twice while they were there and we wanted to warn them. That done, we returned home and waited for O to arrive, which was only about 5 minutes away.

When O got here, we told her the tragic story and also that the thief had gotten away with her money. Her sympathy quickly turned to righteous indignation at the thief. She readily agreed to call the police for us. (It is just awful sometimes trying to be understood on the telephone in Spanish!) The police arrived within 5 minutes!

O told them our story and they checked things out. I took them upstairs and showed them the urine puddle. They agreed that it was urine and that there was a pubic hair floating in it. I asked them if they were going to take a sample for DNA purposes. They just looked at me like I was a victim of too much American TV and then laughed. No sample was taken.

As we left the room, I noticed a pair of flip flops in the corner of the deck, in the corner where if you are brave you can leap from our deck to the house next door. (which we also own) Evidently this is how the perpetrator made his escape. Over the rooftops. One of the police officers then asked B if we had a dog. We said no. He said we should get a big mean one! We said no. Then he said we should get a tiger then! We did not find this funny.

The police were very sympathetic to our situation but did nothing. They did tell us that patrols would again be stepped up in our neighborhood but that was all they could do. If we wanted an investigation done, we had to go to the central police office, file a written report and request an investigation. Yeah, like that would do any good. They would send an officer around to our neighbors and ask if anybody had seen anything. I’m sure there would be a lot of sympathy for the poor rich gringos. Besides, it would take days for this to happen so what good would it be?
Lesson learned. We padlocked the back gate, are now locking both rooms upstairs and we will not leave the back screen door open unless somebody is in the house. I am going to get some of those ferocious snarling dogs posters to put on the gates. Not much else we can do but try to be more vigilant.

The sad thing is that we have always felt safe here in our neighborhood. In three years not a stitch of trouble. Now we feel victimized, vulnerable and violated. I’m sure we’ll get over it but we have learned a valuable lesson: keep everything locked!

No comments: