Burglars Beware! Why to NEVER Rob a Writer’s Home

I used to write poetry during math class. 

I never would have guessed those poems would come in handy a decade later (a.k.a. last Monday), when burglars decided to break into my home, steal my computer and snatch my lighters.

Yeah, really. All my lighters.

Really, being a writer, I don’t own much else of value. I wish I was there to see the looks on their faces as they ripped apart my manila envelopes entitled “Important Papers.”

I bet they hoped to find bank statements or maybe even my home’s deed. Yeah, right. Instead, they found stacks and stacks of old poetry.

And I can just about imagine what ran through the burglars’ minds as they sifted through my fancy “idea box” resting upstairs on my wooden desk, tossing aside bits of paper with random scribbles:

Phone queue purgatory

Feuding with black widow

No experts in social media

“Where’s the (bleepin’) money!” they scream. “Who the hell is this chick?”

Then, they spot it. The single drawer in my bedroom’s nightstand. Yes! they think. Maybe we’ll find money or jewelry in there.

They yank it out, turning the drawer upside down, only to find nothing but journals and pens, condoms and lube. Furious, they spin around and leave it on the floor, the condoms crowning the unwanted rubble.

Yea, you know it. We writers still need our “muse.”

Perhaps they stole my computer, but really, I got the last laugh. Lesson learned? Burglars beware! You should NEVER break into a writer’s home.

MY QUESTION TO YOU: If burglars broke into your home, what would make you wish you’d been there, to see their faces?

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31 responses to “Burglars Beware! Why to NEVER Rob a Writer’s Home”

  1. Love this. I don’t love that you were robbed, but I think it’s great how they found nothing but musings and ideas and all the loot you’ve stored up for something far more valuable than a bank account.

    1. Haha! Thanks Renee! Yes, after the intial shock and clean-up, my boyfriend and I were laughing when we found my torn envelopes with the words “Important Papers” on them. We imagined the looks on the burglars’ faces when all they found was old poetry!

  2. Hello there. I consider myself a writer. I write poems, have been since I was about 14. I’m 35 and live with my mom. We were burglarized May 23rd, just a few weeks ag. My laptop was stolen, but I used it for my school. I’m an MBA student. So, It’s not like I can just go to a library for 1 hour a day on the internet. that is not enough. Thank GOD I didn’t walk in on them when they were doing it. They took my mom’s wedding ring (she was widowed back in 2004 and her husbands ring was stolen too). She had $400 stolen and two pearl rings and one necklace and my dad’s watch. But the big thing is knowning they were IN the house. I still need to “wash down” my desk since they went in my room. All rooms and they tore UP our house. Everything was out of place, clothes, the bed, the frame, everything. The guest room was pretty bad to begin with so – guess what they said when they found it –“What? Someone already got to this room before us, it’s a mess!”

    They got what they wanted and if I saw them behind glass I’d like to know if they had fun doing it, if they thought it was all that it was cracked up to be and if they enjoyed the benefits of getting the goods for their drug habit. What’s bad is I suspect the neighbors next door, but the police say they “can’t” do anything off of a hunch. They have to have a video or pictures or a finger print. I think that is stupid and they could do more even if someone suspects others. People don’t hang out in front of their house for no reason. These A$$holes were outside waiting for us to leave. I don’t leave the house now when it’s empty. I just wait until someone is home if I need to somewhere. Kinda good that I’m not working right now. We also have a alarm system now. It helps a little to feel more safe.

  3. I’m so sorry.
    It happened to me, too. I left the house one morning around 11:30 to go to Costco. My husband decided to come home for lunch to surprise me. When he came home, the French doors leading to the back deck were wide open and our printer was in the middle of the living room floor. His first thought? “How could she leave the house with the doors open and why did she move the printer?” Men!
    As he looked around, he realized with sickening dread that all the computers were gone, the hard drive, the Bose dock, the iPods… almost all of the electronics.(I married a tech nerd.) He called me at Costco where I left my almost full cart and rushed home (I apologize to the poor employee that had to put everything back: mea culpa.) We called the police. By this time it was 12:30. They rushed to the scene and arrived at 8:30 pm by which time we had no hope of recuperating anything. The scary part was that the burglars were probably still in the house when they heard the garage door open and they beat it out of there (which was why we still had a printer.) The police officer informed us that there was little hope of catching the burglars or getting anything back. Then he went on to say that my husband looked a lot like Brad Pitt and he must get that a lot. (You can’t make these things up.)
    The sad part was that I had about 120 pages of a novel on that stolen computer backed up on the stolen hard drive.
    What it taught me? I have now become the queen of back-up. Upload, download, flash-drives… I have copies of my work stashed everywhere. I also lock up my laptop in a closet before leaving the house. Hate the paranoia.
    It took me a while before I felt safe in my house again.

    Glad you’re okay.

    1. Hi Kate,

      That’s horrible! And I know EXACTLY how you felt. While my novel is backed up on my thumb drive, which is attached to my keychain, I had JUST written 1,500 words of a 2,000-word limit narrative for entry into the annual Writer’s Digest contest, about my trip to Israel. I hadn’t backed it up yet, so it was stolen, along with my computer. I was very sad about that. However, a friend of mine encouraged me to not give up, and that the story was in my head. So, using a pen and paper, I re-wrote it, better the 2nd time, workshopped it, edited it, rewrote the beginning and end, and got it entered two days before the deadline! Even if I don’t win, I know that was HUGE accomplishment. Thanks for sharing your story. I couldn’t sleep easy for awhile, either. Now, I’m proud to say, I’m the owner of a brand new home security alarm system! 🙂

  4. Sorry for the late comment here … I’m really glad you’re okay and it wasn’t worse. That is so scary. I remember having my trusty Honda Civic stolen from right in front of my house many years ago. The thiefs didn’t even enter our condo and I still was terrified. Glad you have humor – it helps!

  5. Shari:

    I am just glad you are OK and have the catharsis of writing to work through the trauma.


  6. Hi, Shari, I hope I didn’t sound insensative there. But I gathered from your writing style that you werent moaning about it, but just sharing the facts of a past event. Im glad it wasnt worse than it was and you got fingerprints. So it never hurts to see humor in a situation. lol

  7. So glad everything turned out all right for you, Shari. Not fun.

    I think if someone broke into our home, I’d love to see their expressions. I’m sure they would trip over jackets and backpacks, then roll their eyes at the cluttered closets and drawers. How could they find valuables in my house when I can’t even find what I’m looking for?

  8. I’m glad you can make light of this awful situation, Shari. It’s such a feeling of violation that someone has been IN your house. Our bicycles were stolen from behind the gate next to our house, and I found THAT hard to handle (The nerve! What a-holes! What gave them the right to be in MY yard? Watching MY porch where the bikes had been in the a.m. I should be able to roll my bike behind the gate without someone stealing it). At any rate… glad you’re OK and that kitties are OK. I think burglars would take one look at our mismatched, ALL hand-me-down furniture and decide to leave. 🙂

  9. […] this horrible morning is a result of my commenting on Shari Lopatin’s burglary story.  I thought why am I giving her the good story, I should be writing about it […]

  10. Even though that is great writing material, Shari, it sounds scary. Glad to hear you are alright and have a healthy attitude towards it all.

    Tonight, we just watched for tornados flying all around our area and I automatically grabbed my thumb drive with all my writing backed up on it. Crazy! Of all the things to think of taking into the closet along with family…

    I hope you can use the experience for writing some good stuff…tnx for sharing and glad you’re safe

    1. Thank you for your concern, Lucinda! 🙂 In all honesty, your situation (the tornadoes) sounds even scarier! My God, I am glad you and your family are alright! It IS amazing the things we think to save on such last-minute notice. Personally, I think that sounds like a great blog post. Or even better, you should write a narrative about your experience and submit it to a literary magazine.

  11. I can’t imagine what you went through and NO, NO I don’t want to meet my burglars. I would be terrified.
    I am glad that you are OK, but you really should consider moving.

    1. The moving part? A little difficult. Just bought my house here a little less than 2 years ago. But, I am securing it better! 🙂 Thanks for your concern. It was freaky, but in the end, it gave me some great writing material.

      1. I’m glad to see you say that about writing material–that’s exactly one of the things I would have thought to myself if it had been me! (One of the first things I always think of is: how will I write about this…?) I was even going to say that in my original comment, and then I decided it might sound insensitive!

  12. If they stole poetry and lighters, mayhaps they were enemies of poetry? Like Farenheit 251 (I think its called)

    1. LOL! Perhaps. They didn’t steal my poetry though, just my lighters (and computer, and camera). But that could be the basis of a really funny short story, I think. 🙂

  13. Well I would be rather mad because all around my house lies very expensive boy scout memorabilia. Yes scouting is not expensive. Rare patches, of which only 100 were made that sell for about $300, engraved bats, flags flown over the Pentagon, ect.

    1. You know, sometimes, the cheapest things are truly priceless. I was so happy they didn’t steal any of my old poetry from high school, or take any of the cards my boyfriend bought me throughout the years. I would be angry too, if I was a Girl Scout, and they stole my memorabilia.

  14. Honestly, this scares me a little — being burglarized is one of my worst nightmares — so I hope you’re okay!? I know our real “important papers” would be way too easy to find, BUT most of all, I think would-be thieves might be astounded at the large number of books we have and the closets full of keepsakes I can’t bear to throw away! Sorry for the terrible experience, but glad you’re okay!

    1. Thanks for your concern! 🙂 I am OK. It was freaky at first, but I wasn’t home when it actually happened. You have to admit, it would be funny to see the looks on their faces as they rummage through keepsakes searching for valuables, wondering “What the . . .?”

  15. Simone, you really need to relocate. The last time I was burgled was about 8 years ago and the only thing they took was my laptop as it was all that fitted through the bathroom window. Just all my original academic transcripts were in the laptop bag. 🙁

    Now about the only thing they would find is a pile of legal paperwork. Not even any condoms!

    1. Bummer they wouldn’t find any condoms! LOL! (j/k) 🙂 I’m sorry they stole your laptop. I completely understand what a nuisance that is! Especially losing all your academic transcripts. By chance, did you decide to keep such papers in a safe deposit box instead, moving forward?

      1. Oh, the story I could tell you! In fact I will. I had ALL our original paperwork in a folder – you know, those black, zip up, business things. I was doing my official change of name (due to overseas marriage certificate) and didn’t know what they’d want, so took the lot. There were train hassles at one of the stations and I went to the station office. I LEFT THE FOLDER THERE. Did not realise until I was on the train. Realised I did not have folder, but had no idea where it was. Jumped of train. Boke heel of favourite paid of shoes. Panic phone call to lost propery. No answer. Back on train. Other things as well, but finally got back to the station in question and they had the folder.

        Where are those papers now? Very safely where you suggested. At the bank! I really should should write this on my own blog, not yours!

  16. I think burglars would be appalled at my lack of electronic gadgetry. We do have a Tivo, but no game system of any kind. We have a stereo of sorts, but it still has a cassette deck if that’s any sign of how old it is. Other than that, there’s my phone and iPod, which are always with me, and my laptop, which is more than 5 years old. Burglars would be pretty disappointed since there isn’t much that would have value at the local pawn shop. 🙂

    1. Hahaha! I’m right there with you. I don’t even have a digital TV! I bet they were hella bummed when they got in here and realized they left a good, solid pair of fingerprints on my back window for a laptop, an iPod Shuffle that no longer works, a point-and-shoot camera with no memory card, and a handful of lighters. Makes you wonder: dude, was it REALLY worth it?

  17. Dear Shari,
    I am very sorry for what happened. If they stole your lighters they were probably misguided youth who needed them to light their cigarettes so that they could show off to their friends. i have two dogs, and a cat that thinks he is a white tiger for protection.

    1. Thank you baby! Yes, the lighters probably did say “misguided youth who needed to show off to their friends.” Too bad. Those are the types of kids I’d want to help.

  18. Well, I have to say as a frequent victim of burglarization (and always being told “this is a civil matter, ma’am”), I can say the very one thing I try to protect over my cheap jewelry and store of canned preserves is my writing. Copyright. I’m sorry this has happened to you. I can relate as it happens to me every 2 or 3 months.

    1. Oh no! Every two to three months? Have you considered moving to a safer location? I hope you do, as I’d hate for you to feel that unsafe in your own home. I agree with you on copyright. SO important! Do you copyright all your narratives or literary submissions?

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