Brandon Hernández 5 p.m., April 24
- Community Blog
- Caught in The Middle
A Warm Welcome to the Neighborhood...Or Not
After moving 'cross country to San Diego and settling in, I felt myself finally exhale. It was a long time coming. Our idyllic neighborhood in Fletcher Hills, juxtaposed just in the middle of El Cajon, Santee and La Mesa, calmed me.
Until we got robbed.
One sunny morning, I returned from a walk at Balboa Park. I went upstairs to change and noticed the chest at the end of our bed was open. I didn't think anything of it. After all, I have a husband who does irrational things like open a chest and leave it open. Then I went in the closet and saw my jewelry box open. And empty. My heart thudding, I called the aforementioned husband to ask if he'd opened things for no reason.
My body knew what my mind refused to accept, and it walked me downstairs to the back door, to get out of potential harm's way. Just as he told me he hadn't opened anything in our bedroom, I saw it. A hole punched in the glass on the back door, the door itself gaping open.
Panic set in. "Oh God, we've been robbed. What'll I do? Oh, uh, oh God!" I'm not the best in dire situations. He directed me to get out of the house and call the police.
The landscaper who works in our neighborhood happened by. I tried to explain in broken Spanish what had happened. Freddie, as I found out he was called, went into the house with me and made sure there was no lunatic hiding in my bathtub. Bless him, that was a nice thing to do.
An hour later I had the neighbors (many of whom had seen the lovely ladies who robbed my house) were swarming around me, protecting me. The El Cajon police officer came and did his due diligence (after a 45 minute wait; glad there was no one in the house to cut me up in bits).
The women stole my brand new, expensive Nikon camera. The one I had told myself I couldn't buy for years, because there were more important things to buy. The one I'd finally saved up for and bought two months before. The one that leaves a hole in my heart where it used to be. They took a small video camera I use for work. And the point and shoot I'd bequeathed to my five-year-old, whose interest in photography made me feel we shared something special.
They also took worthless costume jewelry (ha ha! spit in your eye on that one) and an empty purse.
I've watched enough cop shows to know I'll never see those things again, though I do fantasize that the officer will knock on my door with the items in hand and the women in tow by the ear, forcing them to apologize to us.
Being robbed sucks. It's a violation to know someone has rifled through your things, cast aside what she doesn't want and taken the things that matter to you.
As for the neighbors who saw the women (they were blonde, driving a white Ford F150 with gold Eddie Bauer trim, so if you know them, punch them in the face and send them to the police), I know they feel bad for not doing anything. We tend to want to mind our own business, keep our heads down, until something like this happens. I can only hope it's made a greater awareness that we have to help each other out. Write down the license plate number of that suspicious car in your neighborhood. Call a neighbor to ask if they have company. Take action. Because afterward, when there's shattered glass on the ground, it's too late.