Friday, January 15, 2010

Burgled! The Amazingly True Adventures of a Casual Burglary

Ok, the first thing I have to say is… Enough already! I know I am a smart-ass. I know my sarcasm rivals only my punnery, but seriously this is beginning to lose hilarity at an alarming pace. I know I said I like to do scary things that “Melissa Allen” (my alter-ego) would not do, periodically. I do. This is why I fell in love with judo (although the affection was not reciprocated to the detriment of my ankle), this is why I put raw fish in my mouth ages ago (trusting to the antibiotic properties of wasabi), and why I have lived in Japan, Scotland and now New York by myself. And why beers with strangers have turned into friends.

But seriously. Seriously??... Onto our feature:

Burgled! The Amazingly True Adventures of a Casual Burglary

Starring: Melissa Spangenberg, KaiBot3000 and “Random Baddie” (played by Jason Isaacs, because the thought of a random, hot Englishman – who is an AWESOME villain - breaking into an apartment in Bensonhurst tickles my funny)

Scene: Warming Thursday evening turning to chill. Jersey City PATH to WTC. Our intrepid heroine, reading a book on gastronomy manages to catch all her trains like dominoes sliding into order. Tegan and Sara form our soundtrack as she ponders pearl grey velvet jeans from Anne Taylor (want! want!). Stumbling off the N at Nth Ave, the thoroughfare hums with a steady buzz of night traffic: cars and teenagers and Hassidic women and Chinese businessmen. There is a remarkably liquid beauty of Nth Avenue at night under the paint of neon and exhaust fumes.

Home. Our heroine enjoys home because it is warm and small and away from people. It is the place where she plays with makeup (lots of playtime that no one ever sees) and reads comic books and listens to Throw Me The Statue playlists, finding new musics. A place of writing and laughter and much cooking.

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the MelePad on this fine Thursday evening, she is alarmed to find the door of her apartment (reachable through two entryway doors) is slightly ajar. In a fug of thought and early sleepiness, she wonders Did I lock the door this morning? Which is a ridiculous thought, immediately chased away with the knowledge that she would never NOT lock her door. Our heroine DID grow up in Detroit. In a move that she will later be chastised for – she enters the place. It is full dark and slightly eerie, the black punctuated by the keening meows of KaiBot3000 who is acting completely normally. The card table she pulled from the closet for gaming purposes is on the floor, seemingly knocked over by the cat (who has done this before). The floor is suspiciously littered with clothing.

Gold glitter, caught in the hallway lights lays like fairy dust over everything. Curiouser and curioser.

Everything else looks completely normal, so she begins to wonder: what has happened here? The landlady has seen nothing. Calling her mother – who immediately tells her to call the police – she notices that her second, newer laptop is missing, power cord and all. The 1971 signed Detroit Tigers baseball she inherited from her father, who has recently died. A small tin box of quarters.

Suddenly, as if waking from a narrow dream, she realizes that the gold glitter is from a homemade jewelry box her ex-husband’s niece made for her. She checks the jewelry. Her wedding rings are gone. As are the diamond stud earrings and various and sundry cheap necklaces she has collected over the years.

She has been burgled.


Things descended into farce around that point – something I can deeply appreciate.

My landlady remembered the door was locked in the morning and had noticed it was slightly open for a couple of hours. She assumed I was home (despite being a very private person and never keeping my door open before). Her husband – who is slightly senile, but awesome – came to see if I was alright. He wasn’t wearing any pants.

Since my old computer was still there – thank god! – I went online to find the number for the police. I wasn’t sure this was strictly an emergency as I was not dead, no one was in the apartment and I had tidied slightly thinking my cat had wrecked the havoc. I called the first police station. They imputed my address and said I needed to call another station (at 62nd St). The dispatcher yelled at me for going into the apartment (very kindly, but crossly nonetheless). I called the second number. They told me I had to call 911. I called 911, who yelled at me for calling for a burglary. However, they did take my info and notify the police.

The police arrived. I was very thirsty, but didn’t want to touch anything more than I already had, just in case. Both of the officers were extremely polite and very kind. They were both Mets fans and I think my plight with the 1971 signed Detroit Tigers ball – after all, the Mets haven’t had a victory since 1986 – was a commonality that was surreal, but necessary (for me). I’m not afraid of police, I respect them very much for the most part, but two very large guys with guns in my little apartment made me feel very small.

At some point, I realized that I had not completely tidied up and certain items I would not ordinarily have on view before members of the opposite sex were completely out in the open. I was mortified, but decided to pretend I didn’t see them. Since the first cop got that I was a librarian after a cursory glance around my place, I realize they probably noticed them long before I did.

After a check of the windows, the door, etc… they called in their Sergeant and CSI. My landlady kept ascertaining that one of my friends had to have had my key and came in and took stuff. I kept ascertaining that if it were one of my friends, they would have taken my RPG stuff. Or my expensive MAC brushes. I pointed out that the locking doorknob in the hallway had been broken for two weeks. I had been alarmed last week when the delivery guy (for me) actually knocked on the door of my apartment. I’ve never had that happen before.

While we waited for the Sergeant, the officers and I chatted. I was really calm, considering (I had to calm my Mom down over the phone). I think a part of me thought the thief might have been the Dell representative who keeps calling me to return my defective hard drive (which the thieves did not get – NaNoNovel safe (ish)!) despite the fact that I (a) would never give my old hard drive to Dell, (b) as per my contract, I don’t have to return my defective hard drive, and (c) they gave me a fucking refurbished hard drive to replace my new hard drive that died. So in some small way, the lap top theft was slightly ironic. There was nothing on there, not even the software that should have been on there. I’m seriously springing for something better this time. I covet a Sony or an HP. I’d get a MAC, but I’ve never been down with the MAC operating system. But maybe this is the chance?


The Sergeant was completely awesome. The CSI team was pretty cool, too. They fingerprinted the joint (while I tried to stay out of the way of six cops) and talked to my neighbors. If I wasn’t so contained, I would have hugged them all just for coming out. And for wearing proper uniforms and using plenty of light sources.

And then they were gone. I called a locksmith and he came out last night and installed a really nice lock that is coming with me wherever I move to next. My landlady (who was still hanging around at this point) was trying to haggle with him to put another cheap lock on the door. As I was paying, I bought a better lock. He proved his point to her by opening the old deadbolt in about a minute. He was a total badass: an old school Russian guy who made me laugh my ass off. As I had to work this morning, hell or high water, I then cleaned up the fingerprinting dust, vacuumed and remade the bed before going to sleep.

I had no trouble sleeping because I can’t really take this personally.

Whoever did this (and I do prefer to think it was Jason Isaacs), didn’t know me at all. In all likelihood, it could have been the guy who gets a quarter an hour delivery business cards for the local taxi service. He saw an easy lock to pick and opportunity and took the chance. He got a computer with a refurbished hard drive, my wedding rings (good riddance, I say), some change and an autographed baseball. The ball being the one thing the police thought would have the potential to break this case (if at all).

It could have been much, much worse. My cat could have been killed (although seriously, I wouldn’t have minded if she’d been stolen). I could have walked in on the burglary and been shot or assaulted. My MAC brushes could have been stolen (they are one of the most expensive things I own) or my shoes. Or my zombie stuff. Nothing money related was stolen: not my passport, not my SSI card nor anything checking related. The cops could have brushed me off. My landlady could have tried to evict me for bringing in a bad element – owning to her strange assertion that obviously it was someone with a key. My lingerie could have been touched (but as far as I know, they weren’t). I could have come home to a completely tossed place. My car could have been stolen.

In Bensonhurst alone (for 2010), there have been 28 burglaries and 43 instances of grand larceny. But that’s a 27.3% decrease from 2009 (as per the 62nd Precinct CompStats) – although grand larceny is on the rise (8.3%). à

Out of 179,129 people (at last census) with a 10.1% unemployment rate (of legal, seeking work respondents) in Bensonhurst, the probability that I would be a victim at some sort of crime was rather greater than a year or two ago. This could have happened anywhere – something I kept reminding my Mom – as three Xmases ago my brother-in-law’s car was actually stolen outside my parent’s house on Christmas Day while everyone was inside.

Yikes, this turned into a novel. Updates to follow as they occur. I cancelled RISUS tonight for a beerfest that is sorely needed. Who could think about Rudolph Hess when I have a real life villain for discourse with friends.

But seriously. Enough with the scary things. Truly it is a curse (although, secretly it’s sort of a blessing) to live in interesting times.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you're alright! I am also happy Kai was not stolen although I did expect her to kick the burgular's ass!