Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I just got burgled for the second time. A few months ago someone
entered through an unlocked garage and took my laptop, TV, ipod/
other electronics. I now lock carefully before I leave each day, and
take my laptop or hide it. Today I found a screen ripped, the window
opened, and the house ransacked. Only personal items were taken this
time: jewelry, family mementos, my accordion, and a collection of
miniatures from grandparents of foster children I helped raise. It feels
very personal. Not just the sense of violation but that the thief was
trying to damage me more than just stealing things to sell or pawn. I
have a very good relationship with the young woman I mentored but
her brother is an unemployed dropout who could easily be the burglar.
He’s taken money from my wallet in the past. He’s not a totally lost
cause and I keep trying to mentor him into getting a GED. But he is
resentful of my relations with his sister. I’ve filed police reports both
times, and will start haunting pawnshops. I know I need to put in an
alarm system. But should I confront him or not?


Dear Distressed:

You should definitely put in an alarm system, though that’s not a
guarantee you won’t lose your stuff again. In the time it takes for the
alarm company to call you and for help to be dispatched, a committed
burglar can grab anything they want. Many people are targeted more
than once before they put in an alarm, because thieves who have
struck before have two advantages. First, they’re pretty sure you’re
going to replace the stolen objects, especially electronics. Second,
they know the lay of the house, and can be more efficiently the next
time. Doing this while an incredibly loud screaming siren is alerting
neighbors is a little harder. But anyone with a hammer can break any
window, and anyone with a grudge can always find a way to hurt you
by taking precious things.



I’d talk to both foster kids, so it appears even-handed. Explain you
have been burgled twice, that old keys will no longer work, that you
not be giving keys or the security code to anyone, and (this last part
could be a bluff) that there will be hidden video cameras embedded in
the house. I doubt if he is the thief that he would confess to any prior
incidents, but this might be enough to deter future break-ins. It’ll be
harder to erase the sense of violation. You might also keep better
track of your purse when you see him.