A Hard Lesson to Learn People are capable of anything in these tough economic times. Learning this lesson the hard way was scary, frustrating, and disappointing. As a child I was taught the difference between right and wrong. I was also taught that stealing was a crime. The events that follow permanently altered my belief in people and in the justice system. My family felt violated and unsafe. We had to learn to be more proactive in protecting our home and ourselves. One afternoon, after lunch my family and I were sitting around relaxing when the doorbell rang.
I got up to answer the door and realized it was a detective from the Sheriff’s office. As I invited him in, I felt apprehensive at the reason for his visit. When I asked him the reason for his visit, he stated that he believed our home had been burglarized. My family and I were completely unaware and started looking around as he asked if anything was missing. Everything seemed to be accounted for inside of the house so he asked us to check the garage. Upon entering the garage, I noticed that one of the fuel tanks was missing from my boat and that two of my rods and reels were missing as well.
I was extremely angry because one of them belonged to my grandfather. The detective asked us to view photographs of some stolen items to try to identify our missing property. While viewing these I was able to identify my missing fishing equipment, which was later returned, but my tank was not among the items recovered. We later learned the thieves were low on gas when they stole my fuel tank and placed the gas into their car. They did not realize that my fuel tank held a mixture of oil and gasoline which caused their vehicle to sputter and smoke.
This was the reason they were pulled over by the police and questioned for having a multitude of property in their vehicle at the time. I felt like this was poetic justice. As the short investigation ended and the thieves provided a full confession, my fishing equipment was returned. I was very frustrated that my fuel tank had been thrown away, as I was forced to purchase another one. This was very disappointing considering it was new and very expensive. I was relieved to have my grandfather’s fishing rod returned though. Next, we were notified that a court date was pending and were instructed to attend in order to testify in the case.
I arrived in court, apprehensive and nervous about facing the thieves who violated my home and privacy. I was asked to meet with the prosecuting attorney to answer additional questions about the case. After about two hours, the case was finally called. To my surprise and frustration it had been continued. I was upset and disappointed. I had taken off of work and already wasted hours of my life regarding this incident which I had no control over. I was told the defendant’s attorney had requested a continuance and it was granted by the judge. After a month or so, I received a letter from the district attorney’s office.
It stated the new court date and time for me to be present. Once again, I had to take time off work to deal with this incident. When I went back to court, I learned that the defendants had agreed to a plea bargain and were ordered to me pay restitution in the amount of fifty dollars. This fifty dollars did not even begin to cover the anguish of realizing my home was not safe, the loss of security my daughter felt in her own home, the time off work and the replacement value of the tank and contents. I was extremely dismayed and disappointed in our justice system.
I felt let down and that the punishment did not fit the crime as I was not the only person who had items stolen. Needless to say, I learned a valuable lesson in making sure my home is secure. I learned how to protect myself and my family against burglars. The next weekend we had a new security system installed and purchased new locks for our doors. We also began locking our garage door and ensuring the garage remotes had the code changed. I learned to be less trusting of others and in the punishment people receive for deceiving and stealing from others. It was an experience I will never forget.