Burglars Steal More Than ‘Things’

It was just past midnight; my eyes were getting heavy and my breathing was starting to slow. I was on the edge of falling into a deep sleep when a sudden burst of anger surged through my body. I leaped out of bed and rushed to “the window.” The point of entry still had remnants of black powder on it.

“Fingerprints,” I said to myself. “I hope they find this guy.”

As I stared at the prints, my anger turned to rage, knowing a thief had roamed through my home less than 10 hours before. No matter how hard I tried, I could not shake that feeling of being violated.

I was in a meeting at work when I heard a knock at the door, “Excuse me.

Ron, your wife is trying to reach you and she said it’s urgent.” I rushed back to my desk and frantically called home. “Honey, we’ve been hit. Someone came through a window and stole so much. Please come home.”

After years of doing reports on Hawaii’s rising crime rates and hearing from burglary and theft victims, I realized I had become a statistic. My family was now a part of this year’s theft stats, and it felt absolutely horrible.

If you’ve ever been burglarized, you understand the feeling of frustration and why many victims are traumatized by the experience. The loss of valuables is difficult to deal with, but it’s that feeling of violation that tears you apart and crushes your soul.

I closed my eyes and visualized a stranger combing through my personal belongings, searching my children’s dresser drawers and walking out the front door with irreplaceable items. It sickened me.

For some reason, I felt like I had failed my family. My youngest son was scared to be in his own home. What could I have done better? What do we do now? This was a wakeup call for me and my family and others in our neighborhood.

Burglary is a property crime, and according to the Honolulu Police Department, there are several things homeowners can do to lessen the chances of being a victim. Most of HPD’s recommendations are relatively easy and inexpensive. The more you do to prevent your home from being burglarized, the less likely you will be one of this year’s statistics.

Alarms: Alarm systems are good deterrents and are highly recommended. Shop around and get several estimates from reliable alarm companies. Find a system that fits your needs and finances.

Doors: Exterior doors should be solid core wood or metal. Door hinges for all exterior doors should be on the interior or have non-removable pins.

Door locks: Double deadbolt locks (key on both sides) are the most secure type of locks for doors. Three-inch screws should be used to secure the strike plate to the door frame. The deadbolt should extend at least one inch into the door frame. If you use a double deadbolt, always have a key readily available if there’s an emergency.

Peepholes: If you do not have a window near your front door, have a peephole installed. NEVER OPEN THE DOOR FOR STRANGERS. If you do not recognize the person, ask from the closed door what he or she wants. If you are suspicious, call 911.

I eventually calmed down, wiped the black powder off the window and reminded myself about the message I shared with my family before they went to bed: “Keep living. Do not let the thief dictate how we live our lives.”

As I walked back to my room, I peeked into my children’s rooms. They were fast asleep, quiet and safe in their own home … as they should be.