Sunday, December 19, 2004

Sprinkler Thieves

Our apartment complex sent out notices that the sprinkler company would be coming to replace our sprinklers throughout our apartments (there's one in every room, even closets) sometime between 8AM - 5PM some day this past week through next week. The water company would also be entering to replace the meters. I thought the timing was kind of weird being the week before and the week of Christmas when people would have all of their presents under the tree and not knowing exactly which day out of several days there would be strangers in their apartments while they were likely at work. Meanwhile, the news keeps reporting all of the burglaries where presents are stolen out of people's cars or right from under the tree during this season of thievery. Since there was no specific day, arrangements couldn't easily be made to have the presents somewhere else for two weeks (not to mention any pets that might try to escape).

So a few days into this possible period Tom got home and saw a note saying that the work in our building had been completed. Great, we're done, none of the cats escaped and all of the presents are still there. That same night I called Tom on my way home from working late to say that I'd just swing by and pick him up so that we could run to Target for a couple of things and grab some dinner. When I pulled up at about 6:15PM, he got in the car and said to drive through the complex first instead of heading out. It was such a weird request that I didn't even ask why at first. Then he told me that there had been these three kind of thug looking guys hanging out in the hallway below ours as he was leaving, and he just wanted to drive back by our place to make sure everything was OK. People never really hang out in the hallways where we live, so that was really strange, and even if they did, they wouldn't usually look so thug. As we drive by, we can see the hallway (the hallway itself is open to the outside), and they are headed up to our floor. We parked the car and watched in horror as we saw them try the door across from ours and then stand at our door a moment and then walk into our apartment!!

I started saying "call 911, call 911!" and then sat there watching our (now closed) door with my mouth hanging open. I couldn't believe what was happening. While still on the phone with 911 they left with one of the best presents I'd gotten for Tom.

The first squad car showed up and the cop immediately got out, asked us which apartment it was and started running. Eventually there were sirens and 4 more cars from the county neighboring cities (we live in a small town), and they all got out and started running, too. One of the cops even had his gun pulled.

Next thing we knew 3 of the 5 squad cars were leaving, and the cop from the 4th car told us that the officer who'd arrived first would come talk to us in a minute, and then he left.

The first cop came over to us and said "Did you receive a notice a few days back about the maintenance work? Those were the maintenance guys." When we asked what they'd been carrying out of our apartment, it turned out to be just a box of keys to all of the apartments.

As we walked back towards the apartment the three guys were there along with a woman from the apartment complex that we recognized (though I'm positive she was not with them as they went in as the notice had said she would be...). I felt kind of silly having sounded the alarm, and I'm sure the cop thought we were flakes who didn't read notices, but I had also felt genuinely and justifiably concerned because we'd gotten the note that the work had been completed, the work each day was to end at 5PM (this was about 6:15PM), there was to be a member of the apartment staff with the company crew when they entered apartments, and instead of uniforms they guys were wearing hoodies and scullcaps.

The woman from the apartment explained that they needed to go back in to turn the sprinkler water back on or something, so that's why they had returned. Tom went up to the guys to say "Hey, I'm sorry we called the cops on you. We didn't know," and two out of the three just looked extremely pissed off and gave no response at all. They were probably in as much shock at the whole thing as we had been except that they'd also had the likely unpleasant experience of having the cops pull guns on them and question them. The third guy (we think it was the boss) at least said it was understandable that we were concerned.

I still felt kind of silly for the rest of the night, but, you know, every single night on the news since that night there has been another story of a home broken into and in one case the burglar took the time to go through every room and every drawer stealing not just the presents from under the tree but also ripping up paper and taking information like the victims' banking information, social security number, etc. as well as anything that plugs into a wall and leaving the place trashed. After hearing that story, I don't feel silly anymore. Better safe than sorry, as they say.

And now I know how quickly the cops will get to my place and that they are good at bringing back up, too.


  1. This is too funny and too crazy. I'm sure you can kinda smile about it now, but I just can't imagine how embarrassing that was.

    Bottom line - better safe than sorry.

  2. Thanks, Stan! Wow you went way back in my blog archives. Yep, that is a story we still remember and talk about and agree that we'd do the same thing again. Safe is good. Sorry not so much.


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