I mentioned in my other post about some events that fundamentally changed my view on the world. Here, I wanted to dive into one event in particular, the break in I experienced in early August this year.
Not long after I moved from Texas to Minnesota to be with my girlfriend's family I headed out to San Francisco for a couple weeks to do onboarding for a new position I had just secured. The onboarding went great, I loved (and still do) my new company and the expereince overall was exemplary. It was the last weekend I would be in San Francisco, I remember snapping awake around 8 AM. I rolled over and grabbed my phone, as I usually do in the morning, to see what had happened while I slept. I saw one message from my girlfriend "Dude, look at the camera".
I had purchased a "smart" security camera and set it up in the apartment before I left. The camera had an app that notified you of movement, or in this case, an "Unknown Face". I looked at the other notifications on my phone and my heart dropped, I saw several "Unknown Face" notifications in a row.
I quickly opened the app and started watching the videos. The first shows a man kicking down our door, walking in and looking around. The others showed two other men carrying things out of our apartment. One video showed our TV sitting in the hallway before one of the burglars swept it up into what I assume was a waiting vehicle. I looked at the live view on the camera to see the now shattered door to our apartment hanging about half open with nobody to be seen.
The feeling was devestating - sitting a thousand some odd miles away, in an Airbnb watching your apartment being robbed.
My girlfriend, who was still in Minnesota at the time, but away with family handled the event like a true champ. She managed to call the police (for the record, if you need to call the police in another area, just dial 911 and they can connect you to the police department where the crime is happening) and not long after I watched the videos I saw more "Unknown Face" notifications as the police had arrived.
After I arrived home, my girlfriend and I combed through the apartment to see what had been taken. We found our TV missing, a box of credit cards and other personal documents missing, all of my girlfriend's jewelery, an iPad and some other miscellaneous things were all nowhere to be found. This sucked, especially my girlfriend's jewelry (which included a number of sentimental pieces), but the coming days would make it clear this was not the primary loss.
We stayed with my girlfriend's family for about a week after I returned from San Francisco while we made improvements to the security of the apartment. When we were satisfied, we hesitantly moved our things back into the apartment and spent our first night there. Neither of us slept, every little creak and whisp of wind made us roll over and check our security camera for invaders. This continued, unfortunately, for months.
When I thought of what a burglary was in the past, I always thought about losing things. Things like laptops, jewelry, TV's and such, just like the things we lost. But what I never thought about is the emotional and psychological impact something like this has on you. An event like this kind of introduces fear as a regular emotion in your life. Will they come back? If they do will they hurt us? Should we move?
I am fortunate in that I have never really felt true fear, but having it forcefully added as a regular feeling in your life is very traumatic.
Despite how bad this experience was, it does have a silver lining. It has made me realize that physical security is a very real thing, and it goes beyond a lock on the door. True security should exist in layers. Introduce redundancies to ensure an invader is caught before they have the opportunity to enter your home, and if they do enter, make sure you can watch their every move.
Beyond the security implications, I also wanted to mention that should something like this happen to you, go find yourself a therapist to talk about it. My girlfriend and I did not do this, but looking back on it and our experience since I really wish we had. This is very much a traumatic experience, it isn't something you should just sweep under the carpet and move on with. Deal with it while it is fresh and you will probably suffer much less in the months after.