I wish there was some sort of cutesy title I could ascribe to what happened to us, however wit has escaped me at the present. Blunt truth will have to suffice.
On Friday morning, Marshall woke earlier than usual to prepare for a 2-hour drive to Oudtshoorn in order to pick up Bishop and Mrs. Hunt. (For our readers who are not familiar with them, they are our pastoral leadership at The Father’s House in Atlanta.) We normally start our day at 6:30 am, with mad dashes about the house in search of socks, bread and combs, but it was the last day of school before Spring Break, so I have every intention of pursuing a leisurely morning.
Perhaps the kids would be late for school. Perhaps they wouldn’t go at all. After all, this school day was scheduled to end at TEN THIRTY IN THE MORNING, leaving the potential for truancy wide open. I closed my eyes and resettled into the blankets to contemplate how the day might unfold. That’s when I heard my husband shouting from that bathroom.
“Marshall!” I said sharply. “Why are you shouting that baby’s name? She’s asleep!”
Marshall emerged from the bathroom, taking angry, purposeful strides.
“Someone just broke into our house,” he muttered.
I sprang out of bed and searched for something to throw on, grunting an incredulous, “What?!” Then it registered that I had mistaken “Hey you!” for “Liya!”
Marshall pressed the alarm and sprinted towards front door to do man of the house things. I was about to follow him but froze. What if the intruder had a gun?
The thought of some fiyanga boy shooting my husband was terrifying. I ran out towards the front door to catch a bullet for my man if it came to that.
Fortunately, it did not come to that. They guy was long gone, but the evidence of his prowling was everywhere. Literally.
There were clothes strewn all over the yard, a trash bag full of our laundry and shoes sat on top of the gate, waiting for collection, and the laundry room itself looked like it had picked clean of the most interesting items: dish towels, two of my totes that were once used as either diaper or gym bags and various items of kids’ clothing.
Marshall opened the gate and got into the car.
“Where are you going?” I asked in a panic.
“To find him.”
Then he sped off, leaving his cell phone and a confused wife behind. It had been 10 minutes since we first pressed the alarm, and still SMHART had neither shown up nor called to see if it was a false alarm. I pressed the alarm for the third time and called the company.
“Good morning!” I said cheerily. “We were just broken into. Are you guys gonna come over?”
The dispatch agent told me that they had a guard on the way. I grunted and hung up. By this time, Marshall had swung back around, having searched the neighborhood at failing to discover our intruder. SMHART security showed up a few minutes behind him, explaining that the company only had one notification of our distress signal, rather than three. (This was troubling, as you might imagine.)
Marshall gave a description of the intruder and the security guard sped off to look for him. In the meantime, the local police had been called. It was only dawn and our house was buzzing like a beehive! It would therefore shock you to know that my children slept through ALL of this: The blaring electric alarm, their naked father’s angry shouts, their crusty mother’s thunderous footsteps down the corridor…none of it was enough to rouse the Grant offspring. Now, if I had been hiding in a back corner somewhere trying to eat a Kit Kat in peace and solitude… You parents know how that always works out.
You may be asking yourself what kind of security we have in this house. Well, it’s South Africa, so everything is locked up pretty tight. We have a high concrete wall, topped by an electric fence. There are metal bars all over our bedroom windows. We have a security company and we lock up everything at night. It just never occurred to us to lock the laundry room because, well…it’s the laundry room. Now that we know our dishcloths and underwear are so valuable, we’ll be locking that up too.
In the grand scheme of things, the break in wasn’t bad in terms of items the value of items lost. The most inconvenient thing taken has been Stone’s boots. Stone has extra wide feet, and it’s always been a struggle to find comfortable shoes for him. It appears that South Africa has something against my family and the possession of boots.
As the day wore on, a detective came to question us. They had caught a man fitting the description that Marshall gave running by the circle in town. He asked me to ID a shirt that they’d picked up in a yard. The bargain-shopping miser in me would know that shirt anywhere.
“That’s definitely ours!”
Good ol’ Faded Glory.
Yesterday, I was asked to ID several other items in a bag they’d caught the potential intruder with. I’d hoped that the bag would include Stone’s shoes, since everything else would be easily replaceable. To both the detective’s and my disappointment, nothing in there belonged to us. It seemed that they had not caught our intruder after all.
“So I guess you’ll have to let him go then?” I mused aloud.
“Oh no,” said the detective, as though the idea were absurd. “We won’t be releasing him as yet.”
Oh great. Now on top of being a burglary victim, I have to worry if I’m an accomplice to violating someone’s civil rights. How could they justify holding him without proof? I guess things are just done differently here in SA. At least they didn’t shoot him sight as they might have done in the States…
We thank God that we’re fine and that no one was hurt. The kids thought it was all very exciting, but over the weekend they became more unsettled. What if they thief came back? How did he get in in the first place? How are we going to protect ourselves? I’ve done my best to reassure them, but even I have suffered from fitful sleep over the past 3 nights. The slightest noise jolts me from sleep and it’s beginning to interfere with my effectiveness during the day.
Have you ever been robbed? This isn’t my first robbery, but it IS this first time I’ve known someone to risk their freedom for used WalMart brand clothing.