Thursday, May 23, 2002


Monday, March 25th started out as just another day. I got up at 5:07am, got ready, hopped in the car and started my 2-hour morning commute. Scott got up at 6:45am (lucky guy) and headed off to work shortly thereafter. It was as normal as any other day, until Scott arrived home after work.

The first thing he noticed was speaker wires sitting on the floor of the garage. What were those wires doing there ? He had installed a four-speaker surround-sound stereo system in the car for when he works on vehicles, but he never left wires on the floor. When he approached the door, he saw the horrifying truth staring him in the face. The frame of the door from the garage to the outside was completely destroyed. The door from the garage to the house was splintered and broken, and was sitting, partly open.

We had been robbed.

Without hesitation, Scott retreated from the garage and called the police. Guns drawn, the cops searched the house for any sign of the perpetrators. There was none. They must have known that we worked during the day, as they were long gone by the time Scott arrived.

The thieves took almost all our electronic equipment. The receiver from the garage was gone, but not the speakers, as they were bolted in place. The cable box, receiver, VCR, DVD player, laserdisc player, center channel speaker and amplifier were all taken. A stack of CDs, and almost all our DVDs were gone. Upstairs, they took a receiver that was sitting in a closet, a pair of car stereo speakers, the Sony Playstation, and all the games (except for my favorite, Dance Dance Revolution). They checked out Scott's laptop, but since it was a 6-year-old Pentium 133, elected not to take it. They went through my underwear drawer (EWW !), but didn't touch the gold necklace sitting right there on the dresser.

We were beyond shocked. We live in a full 60 miles from both San Francisco and San Jose. It's a quiet, middle-class neighborhood, not a town of thugs. Even the cop said that this stuff just doesn't happen here, and yet, two other houses were also hit on the same day. So why did it happen to us ? Why were we targeted ? What did we do to deserve having our home and our lives so brutally disrupted ?

The feeling of complete and utter violation is something that can never be shaken. Someone was in OUR HOME, looking through OUR things, invading OUR lives. They entered our home with the purpose of hurting us – whether physically or through theft. And for what ? Thrills ? Drug money ? I guess it doesn't really matter why they did it. But they did – and to US – good, law-abiding people that care for and respect others. I don't get it.

I wonder if I will ever feel safe in my own home again. First, my country was attacked by terrorists, and thousands of people lost their lives. And now this. I'm not safe in my country and I'm not safe in my home. Am I to live the rest of my life looking over my shoulder and suspecting everyone of having malicious intentions ? Two days later, we installed a state-of-the-art alarm system with every bell and whistle you could possibly imagine. Two keypads, two motion detectors, door/window alarms, remote controls, remote panic button, hook-up to the police, telephone dial-in controls, indoor alarm, outdoor bell. The next person that dares step foot in our house without our permission will get an earful – and a quick visit from the police. Nobody messes with us again.

I am thankful that they did their homework and broke in while we were away at work. I am relieved that Tiger was smart enough to hide and wasn't harmed. For the most part, the stuff that was stolen can be replaced. The only exception is the laserdisc that was in the player (it belonged to Valdi's wife and is out of print), and the custom-built car stereo speakers. But the rest is just stuff.

I was dreading calling State Farm and reporting the robbery. I was envisioning hours and days and weeks of headaches and fights with them. I know now that we made two very smart choices when we took out our homeowners' policy – one was choosing State Farm, and the other was paying extra for replacement value coverage. The default coverage for any homeowners' loss is depreciated value. If you have a television set that you paid $1,000 for 5 years ago, and it is stolen, they'll pay you depreciated value depending on its age. So perhaps you'll get $700 for it, even if it'll cost you $1,000 to replace it. With our extended coverage, we are entitled to replacement value of an equivalent item. If the exact item is no longer available, we get the next-best thing – even if it's an upgrade. And if we decide to upgrade to a higher model, we still get replacement value of the equivalent item towards the upgrade.

We'd been talking about replacing the VCR soon, as it was on the fritz. Our home receiver was only adequate, and not capable of everything we wanted it to do. Scott has wanted a Playstation 2 for ages, but how could we justify the expense when we already had a Playstation 1 and all those games ?

We never could have received anywhere near the money we got from the insurance if we had tried to sell these items on eBay and upgrade. But because the stuff was taken off our hands, we were 'forced' to upgrade. What a tragedy that was.

To be honest, we're not replacing every single thing that was stolen. We don't need the laserdisc player, that was given to us by a friend and didn't cost us a penny. Replacement value? $700. Added to the settlement of all the Playstation games, we came out quite far ahead.

In one trip to Frys Electronics, we had an absolute blast – we ompletely filled the trunk of Scott's car replacing the missing items. We bought a new VCR and DVD player, a Playstation 2, some games, and a receiver for the garage. At Good Guys, we found the deal of the century – a previous top-of-the-line Yamaha receiver for our home theatre, open-box, for almost half the original price. We found some incredible end-of-line Jamo speakers, also for over 50% off regular price. Because of this, Scott has built a home theater system with sparkling sound quality that rivals that of a movie theater. With someone else's money.

Perhaps this was the best thing that could have happened to us.

[see next post]


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