It Could Always Be Worse, Right?

You know you haven't had a good day when it can pretty much be summed up in a single question to your husband on your drive home from work. "Can you make me a drink, or did they steal all the liquor?" Well, the good news is that all of the liquor bottles were intact, but the bad news is that not much else was. :/

Francisco called me at work after he had just gotten home, and I could immediately tell something was wrong. Sadly, there's no way to sugar-coat this conversation, so he broke the news to me as gently as possible. Being at work, I tried to remain as calm as possible and process the situation. He had found the garage door ajar and the adjoining house door kicked in. He's a smart man, and we both know logically that you're not supposed to rush into your house if you suspect there's been an intruder, but his concern was immediately for our two cats. Thankfully, he was able to locate them, although it seemed like Zharo was definitely frightened. He called the police, then called me. I was a bit stunned, running over what they probably would have taken.

My heart dropped when I thought of our external hard drive where we store all of our personal pictures and videos. We tend to take a ton of photos and videos, especially when we're traveling. While we upload a small fraction of the pictures to social media sites, this was our main storage device. I was afraid to ask, but I needed to know...and it's gone. I've been coping with losing everything else fairly well, but that is the piece I keep getting hung up on. I would give anything to have those memories's just years and years and thousands of files...and I'm sure it was all just deleted in a matter of minutes.  :(  Probably not worth too much at a pawn shop, but utterly priceless to me.

The other difficult loss to stomach is our lock box that had all of our personal identification in it. Birth certificates, social security cards, and passports all gone. Complicating this is the fact that we are going to Asia in a few months, so we are in the midst of the slow process of replacing all of these valuable documents. With our passports gone, of course our passport stamps from the few countries we've visited are long gone. This also makes me really sad to think about because these were once in a lifetime trip to places like Egypt and Australia.

We had contacted State Farm to start the claim process, and we had to go through and make an inventory list of everything that was missing. Of course, the obvious things were gone: all of the laptops, TV, DVD player, video game systems and accessories. My entire workout DVD collection, most of my purses, all of my rings from my jewelry box, which included my wedding ring. Some of the missing items were a little absurd - all of my old prescription glasses were gone, several pairs of Francisco's "fancy" dress socks...even more surprising were some of the items they didn't take. They cleared out all the electronics from the living room but left the Roku. Maybe they didn't know what it was? o.O While all of my rings were gone, none of my necklaces or bracelets were missing.

A detective dusted for fingerprints, but she said the thieves were almost certainly wearing gloves, so it probably won't lead to anything. As we cleaned up the mess, I saw one of my rings on the floor and went to pick it up. Near the ring, lodged under one of the chair legs was a piece of paper. I picked it up and glanced over it; it was a receipt. I asked Francisco if he'd gone to a Speedway on Colerain, but then looked a little closer. This was from 5 AM the morning of the burglary...and that is not our credit card number! I was immediately flooded with adrenaline. And a bit tickled that our burglars' drink of choice was a Straw-Ber-Rita. :-P Bam, I cracked the case, sucker! (I'd already checked out several Internet forums that warned you will likely end up playing detective in this kind of situation, but that didn't stop me from practically jumping for joy as I called the police station.) Of course, things never move as quickly as you'd like to think they would. The detective stopped by to pick up the receipt but informed us that she would need to subpoena information from the document and that is up to the court on how long it will take.  That was about a week ago and still no update.

We are in the middle of an ongoing disagreement with our property management company, Vinebrook, who have so far refused to pay for the damage to the door. Renter's insurance only covers the damage to our property, not to the landlord's property. They have referenced language in our lease that they claim releases them from liability, but we consulted with an attorney that advised that all residential leases in Ohio have an implied warranty of habitability which requires the landlord to bear the cost of repairing damage that makes the unit uninhabitable/unsafe. The fractured door frame does lead to an unsafe living environment, but they have yet to accept responsibility for the cost of its repair.

A wonderful person at work connected me with a realtor friend of hers who was able to give us access to look at a condo that wasn't even on the market. We have been assured that this is in a very nice area, and we should feel a lot safer. We are so ready to move in! Vinebrook has finally approved our lease-end date request, and we are just waiting to get the official move-in date for the condo. In a lot of ways, the house we've lived in for a year was perfect for us...and we absolutely loved the backyard and spent hours spying on the birds, deer, rabbits, and whatever other wildlife wandered into our backyard. It was our own private oasis, almost completely sheltered from all of our surrounding neighbors by the lush foliage.  Which of course presents its own security risks. :-P It is heart-breaking to realize that a stranger can break into your home and walk away with not only all of your personal possessions, but your feeling of security and comfort and leave you to fall out of love with a place you had come to value as your home. We sit in our vacant living room, and it no longer feels like home...yet we don't even want to replace anything that was stolen until we move because some burglars return after they've given you time to buy new replacement items.
It has been a sad time, but we know it could have been worse. I will always mourn the loss of those priceless memories, but I am so grateful that my kitties stayed inside the house and didn't run out and get hit by a car or get lost. I'm grateful that we had fairly adequate renter's insurance to help mitigate the cost. I'm grateful that Francisco didn't run into the house to find burglars hard at work who could have hurt him. Everyone is okay, and we are moving forward as best we can.

Here is what I have learned from this experience:
1) The cloud is your friend. I have always had in the back of my mind that we should back-up all of our photos and videos online. We have some uploaded in various places, but it is fairly minimal - and mostly photos, only a handful of videos. An external hard drive is a fairly safe place to store these files...until someone breaks in and walks away with years of your life.

2) Keep an updated home inventory list. We put one together with photos when we lived in West Lafayette, but we never officially updated it in Cincinnati. We really didn't have any issues in reporting what items were missing to State Farm, but this list would have been helpful to reference as we went through each room to assess what was missing.  Include serial numbers and the like to provide to the police on the off-chance they can actually recover anything. Also, store your home inventory photos online, because once someone walks away with your external hard drive, there goes that proof of ownership.

3) It's worth reiterating that it could always be worse. Granted it could be better, but it is what it is. :P It's been a rough first year in Cincinnati. Day 1 found us without a vehicle as an uninsured driver crashed into our car at a gas station and fled the scene of the accident. Here we are in a brand new city where we know nary a soul, and our only means of transportation is gone. And now here we are a year later dealing with the aftermath of being burgled. :P The second year here has got to be better, right???

We've gone through a series of emotions from anger to sadness to shame, and we've even tried to keep a healthy dose of humor sprinkled in. The fact of the matter is that this can happen to anyone anywhere, and it can feel devastating. We've tried to keep things in perspective and take action to provide a better future for ourselves. It sucks, but hey, it could always be worse, right?!? :-/


  1. Wow Tabitha....I do hope things get much better from here. I never thought about losing the priceless stuff like pics and personal videos.

    Stay encouraged!

  2. Thank you,'s been rough, but we've been trying to keep things in perspective. I think I'll always be sad when I think about what we lost though. :/


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