Monday, December 06, 2010
Tom was only gone for about 30 minutes tonight; he left the house to come pick me up from work, which I got out of about 15 minutes later than usual. When we arrived home, a police car was parked across the street, the neighbor's door was standing wide open, and our neighbors who lived across the street (but next door to the house with the cops and the open door) were standing outside. For the 4th time in 3 months, a front door on our street had been kicked open, within a span of 2 blocks.
Then, as I was unlocking our front door to come inside, after chatting with the neighbors for a bit (the neighbor whose house had been burglarized, obviously, wasn't home, and no one could get a hold of her), our house alarm was activated and started going off.
I guess it was just coincidence, as we had been standing on the porch talking for 5 or 10 minutes before coming inside. A moment later, our new alarm monitoring service called to ask if everything was ok. That was comforting. Several weeks ago we left town and returned to our alarm blaring. We had no idea how long it had been going off, but until that point, we just assumed it was being monitored. Not so. It was nice to have the alarm, but if no one gets notified if it's activated, it doesn't do a whole lot of good. So we got a monitoring service a couple weeks later, right before we left for Thanksgiving.
Tom and I have very little of any value (laptops, really, that's about it). If someone wants to steal a shitload of books they can have at em. What I do find unsettling is that if the door gets kicked in while we're gone, my cat will most likely get out, and if we're out of town, that just won't sit with me.
Living in this city has certainly been an exercise in paranoia. Naturally, the security industry here is sitting pretty. Having an alarm is simply a matter of necessity. I've never thought so much about crime in my life. In Austin, I used to occasionally even leave my doors unlocked and not think twice about it (which, granted, probably wasn't very smart, but nothing ever happened). In Portland, in our first, ground-floor apartment, I always locked the door, but again, didn't think twice about leaving all the blinds open all day long, and sometimes the windows too, if the weather was nice. It's a different mindset, to be sure. Someone mentioned once that Memphis would never attract the educated talent that it wants to this city if it doesn't get its crime under control. There may be some truth to that. It would certainly be a factor for me in deciding whether or not to put down roots here.
I don't get too worked up about crime. I guess I'm just an eternal optimist, or I'm naive, or I'm just in denial, but crime just doesn't freak me out that much. Having 4 houses broken into just on a two block stretch of my street in the last 3 months certainly does give me some pause, however.
Tonight makes me sad. The neighbor across the street is just a nice, quiet, probably mid-30's single lady. Last week she put up a beautiful Christmas tree in her front window that glows radiantly at night. The cops said that was probably why she was targeted. What fucking assholes (the thieves, not the cops). one consolation I take from this is that no one was home at any of the break-ins. That clearly means they don't intend to hurt anyone; they just want their stuff. Still a violation to be sure, but slightly less scary.