The Break-in

At around 2:00am on December 14, I was awakened by the sound of loud, rhythmic banging, almost as if someone were throwing a basketball with great force. *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* *CRASH!* The final sound was definitely that of a window shattering. As I laid awake in my bed, trying to figure out what was going on, I heard those same sounds again, this time much closer and more distinct: *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* *SMASH!!* It was then that I realized with horror that the sound of shattered glass came from inside our apartment.

Cassia was now awake too. "What was that?" she said. I got up from the bed and tiptoed into the living room and toward the kitchen, my pulse quickening. I could hear the ambient city noises from outside our kitchen window and feel the rush of cold air against my body. I poked my head around the corner to see our blinds disheveled and hundreds of glass shards gleaming in the moonlight on the kitchen floor. I waited for the sound of footsteps or some other human activity outside, but there was only silence. What if someone was poised outside my window, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike? Unarmed and completely vulnerable (I don’t even own a baseball bat), I mustered up all the courage I could and yelled out, "Hey!!", hoping that it would scare away any would-be invader. I heard nothing. I returned to our bedroom, collected myself for a few moments, then announced to Cassia that someone had broken through our kitchen window. We called 911.

The operator directed us to first check on our children to make sure they were alright. Emma was already asleep in our room, so I checked on Jonathan in his room. After all, the first set of banging sounds I heard could have been someone trying to enter his room. I slowly opened the door and found him sound asleep in his bed – window intact – and breathed a sigh of relief. At least our kids were okay.

Within a few minutes we heard a knock at our front door. It was a police officer. With him in our apartment we finally felt it was safe to turn on the living room and kitchen lights. When we did, we saw that the damage was much more severe than my first darkened glimpse had hinted at. Glass shards were everywhere: the kitchen sink (which was itself filled with dirty dishes, so there was glass inside of bowls, cups, and cooking pans), the counters, the kitchen table, and of course the floor. A few shards travelled so far as to be found on the living room carpet. The policeman gave me a witness incident report to complete and excused himself from our apartment, which gave Cassia and I more time to think about what to do next. The temperature in our apartment was falling fast, so my most pressing concern was how to stop the inflow of cold air.

After ten minutes had passed and the policeman had not returned, I pulled on my coat and went outside to find him. As I did I saw flashing lights in front of our apartment complex and a police officer using pretty rough language and yelling at someone. There were a few others standing by witnessing the commotion. One police cruiser pulled away, while another officer (not the same as the one who came to our apartment earlier) prepared to leave in his. I said, "Did you catch him?" "Yeah, we got him. He’s going to jail." I handed him my report and he drove away.

Well, at least they caught the guy. Now for the clean up. I found my next-door neighbor, whose second bedroom/office had been the one first hit. Turns out the sound that I initially thought was a bouncing basketball was actually the perpetrator’s foot kicking against the window pane. Since our windows are double-paned, it took a fair amount of force to punch through them all. He hit our neighbor’s office (on the other side of Jonathan’s bedroom, whew!), then our kitchen, then a window further down the way (I wonder if my "Hey!" saved our other next-door neighbors from sharing our fate) which so happened to belong to the bedroom of their young sleeping child. The perpetrator only broke through the outer pane, so the baby was fine, although the sound woke him up screaming. It was a miracle that in all this mess no one got hurt.

The three of us grabbed some packing tape and a few outdoor garbage bags and tried to block up the outside window panes. Then I came into the house and taped a bag over the inner pane for insulation (as well as protection from additional falling shards from the window itself). Cassia and I carefully and thoroughly cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom to remove the glass – and there was a lot of it, including thousands of tiny little flecks that made their way under the fridge and stove and countless other out-of-the-way places. The dishes definitely got done that night! Altogether, the two of us were up until about 6:00am taking care of the mess. I went back to bed for a few hours before going to my 9:30am class (it was the last day of the semester), but I essentially dozed through the day. I hope none of my professors were too offended.

We received a replacement window about a week later, and all has been pretty normal since then. We got a notice in the mail around the first part of January that the perpetrator was headed to court. We didn’t know his name, but we were glad that he would be brought to justice – unlike the tire slasher who terrorized our complex for nearly two weeks back in January 2006, (literally) nailing our car and several others. We never learned what the guy’s motive was – when Cassia asked me that fateful night I replied half-jokingly, "Boredom?" He may have been drunk and looking for something to do, or he may have had more nefarious intentions. I’m glad we never got to find out. I did learn this, however: after he finished his little destructive spree he ran off to find a hiding place. Coming to a nearby house for single men and finding the door unlocked, he let himself in. He was discovered after he wandered into one of the bedrooms there. It was pretty easy to figure out he was the guy – he had glass shards stuck to his boots and pants legs. Wow, I don’t know which would be scarier: to have your home broken into while you’re still in it or to suddenly awake to see the dark figure of a man standing in your bedroom! Again, it’s a miracle that things turned out the way that they did, because it could have been so much worse.

". . . And that’s the way it was."

2 Responses to “The Break-in”

  1. Holy COW! We had no idea all of that happened! The guys sounds like a real smart one…. being so sneaky and all. Glad everyone was OK!

  2. Now that is scary. I wonder if the guy was on something or in his right mind. We hear of things like that happening in the Seattle area but who would have supposed that Provo had really bad guys, too. Gramma

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