Burglary - a personal story
Jenny knew exactly how long she had been out of the house. She had mistakenly been issued with a parking ticket while shopping, but the three-hour parking pass she had bought was still valid by the time she returned to her peaceful village home.
Maybe it was the anger over the parking fine, but it wasn’t until she walked back from her car with her second load of shopping that she realised her patio doors were open.
“Even when I realised the patio doors were open, it didn’t click. I’d already been into the kitchen once. But when I looked again through the open patio doors, I could suddenly see what had happened.”
The burglars – having spotted the two dogs barking in the kitchen – parked their car in the road running along the bottom of the back garden, broke in through the patio doors, and ransacked every other room in the house.
“When I saw what had happened, I was speechless; you feel like you’re imagining things, I kept thinking ‘This can’t really be happening to me’, but it was,” said Jenny. She called her husband, Paul, who phoned the police from work before coming home.
“It wasn’t until my husband came home that I started to take in all the things that had been stolen,” said Jenny.
As well as the usual electrical items such as the television, stereo and computer, the burglars took a large number of ornaments and personal effects, including a collection of figurines which Paul had bought his wife to commemorate poignant moments during more than 30 years of marriage.
“I went through the whole range of expected emotions – shock, upset, anger – and in many ways I’m still very angry. We had things taken that were worth a lot of money, but it was the smaller things that were worth a lot less, but meant so much more, which really upset me.
“It was the thought that these people had taken something that didn’t mean anything to them, that they wouldn’t receive a lot of money for and wouldn’t particularly value, but were so valuable to me.
“They had also damaged our dining room table, where they had stacked the things they were stealing. I had protected that table for 20 years as we brought our four children up, it had survived undamaged, and now they had ruined it.”
In the few days after the burglary, Jenny – an experienced counsellor and with a degree in psychology who had only just finished training as a Victim Support volunteer – began to feel the full impact of the crime. “I was angry that so many items with real sentimental value had been taken, and I was upset that our privacy had been invaded.
“For a long time afterwards, I found myself spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I later realised it was because it was the one room the burglars had not been in.
“I couldn’t stop cleaning, and I had to rearrange everything in the lounge; I didn’t want it to stay the way it had been when they had broken in. And knowing they had been in the bedroom, we had to redecorate there.
“Even now, although we have replaced a lot of the items, they don’t really mean anything to me. They are just material objects, they don’t have any sentimental value.”
While Jenny had a circle of close friends and fellow volunteers for support, she was delighted to receive a call from Victim Support. “Having gone though all the training, and knowing how the process should work, I was very, very pleased to receive a call from the local Victim Support branch a couple of days after the burglary. It meant that everything we had been trained to do was happening in reality.”
The burglars have left a lasting impact on Jenny. “I’m much more security conscious now. I resent the fact that every time I go out I have to make sure every window is shut and locked, and set the alarm. It has been a long time for that sense of security to come back: it’s been at least a year, but that secure feeling is now returning.
from Victim Support's Annual Report.