Four months ago, we were burgled. Whilst my husband, son and I slept soundly upstairs, someone (well four someones as it turned out) hooked my house and car keys from the hall table, pulled them through the letterbox, let themselves in and proceeded to search the entire ground floor to find the keys to my husbands car which was (thankfully) blocking mine in.
They took everything portable and of value (almost exclusively my stuff) and every bag that they came across in case the keys were inside. Even my son's school bag.
I came downstairs the next morning to walk our 4 month old puppy and noticed that something was wrong. Contents of drawers were all over the floor, the curtains that we pull across the front door were just slightly apart.....and the hallway was empty.
My husband came down and we checked each room, not really taking in what was missing at first - that came as a series of sickening waves as the realisation that each item was gone hit me. We found our puppy hiding in her crate and immediately suspected she had been restrained in some way. Four months on and she is still reluctant to come out of her bed until she knows that it is one of us that is in the room and she is still very jumpy at night.
We found all of the bags dumped just down the road, contents spilled across the pavement, anything of value taken. My son's schoolwork was strewn in the bushes and my iPhone case was a few yards away, lying in the grass.
A few weeks later, my laptop turned up (thank you "Find my iPhone"!) in Islamabad of all places and my car keys were discovered a few streets away shortly thereafter.
Eventually, life gets back to normal. You replace what is lost (or at least, the things that can be replaced) and you get your house and car locks changed. The house is now like Fort Knox but the experience has totally changed how we live our day to day lives.
Not a day goes by when our behaviour isn't different because of the burglary. We don't leave things lying around like we used to. I cannot leave my phone in the kitchen if I am going to be in the lounge. If I am going out, I take as much of what is important to me with me so that I know where it is. I hide things....even if I am just popping out to the shops. I hide them so well that even I can't find them. An entire handbag is missing and I have no idea where I have put it.
The experience of burglary has destroyed my trust in my home. My home no longer feels like a safe place. It feels safer. It is safer than it was. But it will never feel like a sanctuary again.
Four men walked into my home and took away more of my life than I suspect even they could imagine.
I have the satisfaction of knowing that the police have arrested and charged at least one of them, and he can best be described as someone who you would never want within a mile of your home, let alone in it, while you are sleeping.
And I also have the satisfaction of being able to say that we have moved on, and will continue to move on. But life will never be the same.......and I still can't find my handbag!