Very early on this past Tuesday morning, when I was sound asleep…
Something woke me up.
My bedroom has a sliding glass door and screen door, and faces our backyard.
It was dark, but there was enough ambient light to clearly see:
A person standing on the other side of the sliding door.
My heart started pounding.
Otherwise, I was so stunned, I just laid there at looked at him. Or her.
Dark tights, rather than pants or jeans.
The person had something in their hand, and appeared to be trying to open the screen door.
It’s the middle of the night, and there’s a person five feet away from me, trying to break into our house.
It was unreal.
After a few seconds, my blank mind unfroze a bit.
I kept my eyes on the intruder as I started slowly edging toward the nightstand, to reach for the phone.
I glanced over to see how far away I was from the phone. When I looked back toward the sliding door, the intruder was gone.
Pounding heart. Tight throat, so tight I know I couldn’t have screamed.
I woke up my husband, and we called 911.
We pulled on our bathrobes and turned on the lights – inside, outside, many lights.
I was still stunned. Add to that shock, fear, horror and yes, anger.
Someone had just tried to break into our home.
The police arrived quickly, drenching our house with flashing red and blue lights. Two flashlights swept across our property and the surrounding area.
I made coffee, and my hands shook a bit as I drank it.
One of the officers asked us some questions – could I identify the person? No, I couldn’t see their face. Could I describe the person’s clothes? I did. Height and weight? Average and average. He gave us a card. The officer’s name was on one side, and the case number written on it on the back.
We’d become a case number, and that case had a one-word, handwritten description:
We’d had a prowler.
Prowler: a person who moves stealthily around or loiters near a place with a view to committing a crime, especially burglary.
Or perhaps more than one prowler.
We discovered that the prowler outside the bedroom had opened the screen door about three inches. We have another sliding door in our family room, and that screen was open about two inches.
We knew we hadn’t left the screen doors open.
Were there two prowlers? More?
What would he or she or they have done if they’d gotten into our house?
Grabbed a purse and wallet and run?
Asked us for jewelry or drugs or…what? And when we said, “We don’t have any jewelry or drugs,” would they have believed us?
Did they have weapons?
I’ve got a vivid imagination, and it’s been running full-time since around 12:30am Tuesday morning.
And I’ve been doing some research, as well.
Said one website,
According to the FBI statistics, a burglar strikes every 30 seconds in the U.S. That adds up to two burglaries every minute and almost 3,000 burglaries per day.
We get into a fine distinction here.
Burglary: Entry into a building illegally with intent to commit a crime, especially theft.
A burglary is when the person actually gets into the building illegally.
I couldn’t find statistics on attempts to enter a building illegally.
We didn’t have a burglar, we had a prowler.
And I know that makes us damn lucky.
She or he or they didn’t enter our house that night.
But I’m still damn mad, and sad.
Mad, because though our home wasn’t entered, it was still an invasion. They chose our house. Had they been watching us, prior to that night? Making a note of our usual bedtime, and the best places to break in?
Mad, because I feel victimized, and we were victimized, and I hate that.
Sad, because I’ve never felt unsafe in my home, and now I do. My home, my sanctuary, my favorite place.
Still favorite, but no longer safe.
I know that makes me naïve, when you consider how often home break-ins, or attempted break-ins, happen.
When you consider that there are almost 80,000 security alarm services business in the U.S., with revenues of $27 billion annually – a thriving industry.
When you consider that there’s nothing special about us, and why would be exempt?
So instead of my wondering “Why us?” I should accept, “Why not us?”
We know the prowler or prowlers will never be caught.
We know we’ll never get answers to our who and why questions.
We know we’ve simply become another statistic.
We know this has changed us forever.
And I hate that this happened.
We let our neighbors know about the prowler, and we’re taking the steps to make our home more secure.
This does not include buying a gun, but oh…I better understand why many people do.
I’ve moved the bedside phone so it’s now within immediate reach.
We count ourselves lucky, and know this could have been much, much worse.
And eventually, someday, the memory of that person in the dark hoodie and tights, standing five feet away from me, trying to break into my home…
Won’t haunt me before I go to sleep.
Unless he, she or they…