Mike's at a Celtics game with his crew tonight, so by defacto I've been Single-Momming all day. With a little quiet in the house now, thought I'd might update here and thinking what to write....what to write... and then it occurred to me-
I ever tell you all about the time our house got robbed on Christmas?
1994, I was 21 and living at home, working/going to school. I lived with my mom and sister, Emily, who was in high school at the time. The details of how we as a family got together for gift exchange is a little fuzzy as to who was where (I have another sister who was in nursing school and a brother who was living in Baltimore with my father), but I think just the 3 of us exchanged gifts that year at home and then drove to my grandparents in Massachusetts.
We came back home on the evening of December 26th and after going up to our rooms to unpack, my sister Em noticed that her room had been gone through since some items were missing. After hearing that, my mom also realized some of her stuff was gone, too.
It was figured out pretty quickly this wasn't your typicial burglary. As we started to name items, it was pretty tailored to meets the desires of a very specific demographic.
Here's a list of the inventory that I can still recall and see if you can figure it out:
-Fancy Shampoo/Conditioner (Pantene Selects if I recall correctly)
-One Lucky Vanous (Diet Coke guy) calendar (incidentally- my Christmas gift to Em)
Help! I've been kidnapped!
-My one pair of Banana Republic jeans that I scored at Marshall's and paid like $20, tapered, light stone wash and I swear made me look awesome when I hit the clubz ( I had no money and so could not afford a "real" pair of BR jeans, so to find these in a Marshall's was HUGE to me.)
(Yes, I'm still bitter, you'll see why...)
-Some of my Mom's rings - including an emerald ring her parents gave to her
-My sister's diary
I'm sure if my sister read this, she could add to the list, since she bore the brunt of theft.
Yes, a teen girl had hit our house. It would be unfair to call this a "break in", since we had an (admittedly bad) habit of leaving the house unlocked, because we lived in "such a good neighborhood." I would call this more of a "Walk-in" or perhaps "Sneak In". But what was more obvious (other than our lack of judgment not locking the front door) was who had done it.
There was a girl up the street from us who was at one time friends with my sister, Em. The girl, I'll call her J, was a few years younger than Em. J was in 8th grade and her mom had on numerous occasions asked me to sleep over their house while she worked the overnight shift at the Post Office. Sometimes my 16 year old sister would take this gig. While there was another much younger daughter in the house (about age 6 or 7) in play, the need for the supervision was due to J's behavior, since she had a habit of either sneaking out or having people over. And the people she had over were not, um, helping her study or anything.
My family had been very open-armed to this girl, even though I thought she was a total twit. Not that we were the Bradys by any reach, but we were a good crew for her to be around, had kept an eye on her, took her to places with us, and made her part of our little family because her home life was pretty rocky, and made more so because of a recent divorce. My mom, also single, empathized with the mother, and I knew J's mom had been pushed to her limits with J, and was doing her best to keep it together, since and she wasn't getting much assistance from the ex-husband.
I knew J had clipped the items. What burglar comes in for a Diet Coke guy calendar and shampoo? I was PISSED she had done this to us. On Christmas, no less.
I like to think I'm pretty level headed and hard to frazzle in times of crisis. I find it's best to deal with the X-situation first, and then fall apart/explode/rant when all is said and done.
This was not my shining moment.
My exact words to my mom when I Cagney & Lacey'ed the case: "OH FUCK THIS."
A bullshit me bounded over to her house. I knocked on the door. No answer. Knowing they were home, I opened the door and said a bunch of "Hello?"s. This sounds strange now, but it really wasn't since her mom had entrusted me with a key, her kids, and was I welcome there. I went upstairs to the Mom's room and the mom was there. I told her what I had suspected, and asked permission to search her daughter's room. She agreed. I went in searching through the layers of teen-bedroom detritus and was able to locate a few items: the jeans (which at the time I didn't know were missing, and now had a hole cut into the knee), Em's calendar, now written all through, Em's diary, which now had a few added entries from "Em", including a bit of her first experience with a tampon and liking how it felt going in & out of her (classy), and the shampoo.
The bigger ticket items: the jewelry, an Irish Belleek ashtray, cash were not there.
I spoke to J's mom and told her what I'd found. I said I needed to find J and she has coming with me. The mom gave a a resigned, "Do what you gotta do."
I found J in the basement. With a boy. If they weren't having sex, they were rounding 3rd by the time I made my presence known. I told her, "Get your clothes on and get upstairs. And guy- BEAT IT."
More enraged, I walked up to the mother, and said, "Oh and by the way, I just found your kid having sex."
When a clothed J finally made her appearance, I yelled. A lot. Mostly "what the fuck are you thinking?" and "You fucked with the wrong family." I dropped probably no less than 20 F-Bombs that night to a 14 year old girl. Not my proudest moment at all, but I had felt so betrayed by her I just couldn't keep my shit together. Our family been there for her so many times, my sister had been her friend when they were younger, and THIS was how she treated us: by stealing from us on Christmas.
It was all I could do not to jack her up against a wall at this point, mostly because her (fucking) perfected teen indifferent-to-defiant attitude. Deciding to take a page from the Scared Straight campaign, I said to her, "You're coming with me."
First stop: My Mom.
My mom had her moments of getting people to spill- and at a minimum, lay the guilt so heavy you couldn't breathe. When I came up empty with the jewelry (and a few other items), I thought she could make her get the stuff back. We learned J had a partner, and the partner had the other half of the loot. It was then advised she could call this person at that moment. I stood beside J as she called, and her partner in crime said, "tell them I don't have it anymore." That report got J a quick, "then I guess we're seeing the Vernon Police tonight."
I drove the 14 year old thief the police station.
Once there, I get some face time with a officer laid out the details. He advised, giving the 2 idiots 24 hrs to give *all* of the items back, and if not, then press charges. I am sure the cop was seeing the crime for what it was, the value of the items and ages of the criminal mensas, and perhaps rightly thought we would have a better chance of seeing the (mostly sentimental) items returned if we gave a window for them to do the right thing/avoid a rap sheet.
To be honest, this suggestion was not really a favorite of mine. In my eyes, which were only 21 years old then, saw this in black & white- a crime was committed, and I had a person ADMITTING IT, had recovered some of the items at the home of said admitter-er, and I'm to give this girl some slack? What the fuck, V.P.D.?
Begrudgingly, we gave the damn 24 hours. The next day we returned to the police station to confirm we had our stuff back "mostly satisfactorily" since all but the cash was returned (surprise). I'm not sure if it was stipulated she had to pay us back or what. The officer from that day was of my mind that we should have pressed charges AND gotten our stuff back. He was my kinda guy, since even though I knew we could drop a charge, I wanted these girls pissing their pants, at least for a little while.