Monday, January 3, 2011

Life Interrupted

Well, I am still slightly traumatized from Saturday evening’s incident.

About 8:05 pm on Saturday January 1, after the dishes were done and dessert taken care of, I went out to my garage office to check some hockey scores on my computer. I walked into the room to see a young man crouched down in front of my computer table, putting things into what looked like a soft briefcase. He was a good looking guy and he was wearing a very nice fedora. As he looked up at me, my mind went into a state of complete confusion. I host international students, so there are always people in my house, sometimes including students who no longer live with me but are still in Vancouver. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that this fellow was not someone I knew and was therefore an “unauthorized visitor,” so to speak.

The sequence of events that followed this brilliant deduction passed very quickly. As I asked him who he was (as if he was going to pull out his passport or driver’s license and show it to me so I could record the details), he stood up and began to leave—or maybe I told him to get out. While he was going out the door, another blinding flash of insight struck me: he was leaving with a bagful of my stuff, including my precious laptop.

So I followed him outside and grabbed him around the waist as he was headed out to the back lane. He did not resist and immediately dropped the bag into the planter beside him. I let him go. I deliberated for a few seconds as to whether I should call the police and deciding to do so dialed 9-1-1, thinking I would be upbraided for calling the emergency line for a non-emergency.

To my utter surprise, I was asked for a description of the individual and the direction I thought he might be moving in and was told to stay on the line as there were police and dogs in the vicinity, as well as a surveillance helicopter with an infra-red device (helicopter!?). Within three minutes police, dogs, and helicopter arrived. They found the young man’s shoe in the garden—it must have come off when I grabbed him—gave the scent to the dog and within a few moments the “perp” was caught. He had been hiding between my garage and the garage next door.

The police hung around while I wrote a report of the incident and then a fingerprint guy tried to lift the prints from my computer. And then it was all over.

Except it’s not over. I was very fortunate that I got my stuff back right away and that the young man was not carrying a weapon and was not violent. Still, I have been somewhat traumatized by this incident. I cannot seem to stop it from replaying over and over in my consciousness. And of course, every time I am outside I am looking around to see if he or his friends are lurking in the shadows because they have decided to exact revenge for my calling the police. I lock all the doors even during the day when I am inside.

A friend is a trained counselor who once worked for the victim services section of her local police department. She told me that my reaction is normal and assured me that the trauma will diminish in a few days.

Yet I am bemused by my reaction, by how easily my life can be derailed from its normal, peaceful track. I am thinking that the ground under that track is not as solid is I imagined it to be.

I also keep thinking about innocent victims of violent crime—a woman beaten by a husband or boyfriend, an elderly person attacked in his home by a robber, a girl or young woman sexually assaulted on a dark street or in a park. If I am affected by a crime that was neither violent nor resulted in loss or damage to my property, what must the suffering of these people be like?

Oh, and he dropped the nice fedora on the ground outside as he was making off with my stuff.  It wasn't until I picked it up later that I realized it was mine.

Photo Credit

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  1. That's terrifying. Thank God it had a peaceful and non-violent resolution for you. It is amazing how instantaneously order and civility can be interrupted and we find ourselves on some kind of precipice where "the rules" we abide by feel like they are suspended and anything can happen. Understandably, the sudden presence of an ill intentioned stranger can haunt us afterward and make our lives feel fragile- as they are. I imagine I would react the same. God bless.

  2. Well, that wasn't the way to start the New Year. Thank God no violence was involved and that they caught the man. Hope that you are doing OK now and recovered from a stressful situation.

    Peace and blessings - Mark

  3. Thank you, Mark. I believe I have recovered for the most part, save for some residual paranoia. Peace and ,many blessings to you in 2011. Ross