Wednesday, September 26, 2012


No Forced Entry, 2012

What they don’t show you on programs like CSI and Law & Order is that after the crack forensics team leaves the scene of the crime it’s the victims of the crime who have to do all the cleaning up.

We were recently the victims of a home burglary. I won’t go into the details other than to say that no one was hurt and the house sustained no damage. But stuff was taken, the police were called, and the next thing I knew there was a crack forensics technician here in the wee hours of the morning photographing the house inside and out and dusting every door, doorknob and dresser top for finger prints.

If your home has ever been burglarized, you know how this feels. Even if you haven’t had this happen to you, you can imagine. The word you’re looking for is “violated.”
I’ve not been immune to crime in my life. When I was in college I ran a pizza place that was robbed one Friday night when the place was full of high school kids after a football game. No one was hurt. But it still left us all shaking for several days.

Another job I had during college involved supervising newspaper carriers and handling large sums of cash every other week when they did their route collections. It wasn’t unusual for people in this job to get robbed, especially if you worked, as I did, in tough neighborhoods. I was stalked several times, but never robbed. But I did have to pitch in after co-workers had been robbed and it was pretty creepy walking the same streets where they’d just been robbed or abducted.

Years later, my wife and I came home to our apartment house from a weekend away to find that our elderly downstairs neighbor, who’d been reduced to taking in boarders to help pay the rent, had been murdered by a drug-addled friend of her boarder.

None of these experiences, however, involved us cleaning fingerprint dust from doors, doorknobs and dresser tops. The police technician warned me not to try to wash it off with water. She likened it to automobile brake dust, which if you try to wash it off only becomes harder to clean. Cleaning up the fingerprint dust took hours. The inside of the garage door still looks like someone set off a black dust bomb.

Given the various theoretical timelines that have been proposed, it’s possible that our dog was here when the crime took place and could tell us who did it. She’s a fierce barker, but not too physically imposing. We’ve reminded her, though, that if she’s ever given any thought to speaking our language, this would be a good time to start.


  1. What a PIA. So sorry. Fingerprint dust is the worst. Glad no one was hurt.

  2. whoa, indeed unsettling. My mom's house was burglarized while she was in the front yard raking leaves! "They" were efficient and knew just what they were doing. Cut a screen on the back door, went straight to the silverware in the dining room, and jewelry boxes in the bedroom. Nothing was ever recovered, no one caught. ( no crack forensics though, no fingerprint dust.) She was FURIOUS. Felt violated , yes, and ANGRY. And probably helpless.

  3. OMG, Chris--I'm so very sorry! That must be very unnerving to say the least. I can imagine that violated is what you must feel. What a scary thing to have to go through.

  4. So sorry the two of you have been violated. After our third time we got an alarm system.