Before we moved to the Greenhorn Valley, we were between homes for a couple months.  So we rented two storage units and moved all our stuff into them.  On the day we went to move out of them, we discovered one of the locks had been busted.  We looked around and noticed that many of the locks on the other units had also been busted.  We threw open the door with the busted lock and noticed immediately that the TV was missing.  Several of the boxes were ripped open.

How can I describe the feeling at that particular moment?

Panic.  What do we do, what do we do?  Do we call the police?  Is the guy still around?  Can I stop him from getting away?  Let me at him.

Anger.  THIS IS MY STUFF!  You can’t have it!  I paid for that lock and I rented this room and you can’t have it!

Horror.  How much is missing?  Is anything  damaged?  How bad is it?  I think I’m going to be sick.

Violation.  Somebody has invaded my private space and rifled through my stuff.  More of me is known than I wanted to be known.  How can I redeem that and get my privacy back?

In the end all we lost was the TV and its remote (that’s what they were looking for in the boxes).  Although I’m happy the damage was as light as it was, it still took a long time to sort through all those feelings.  And I still can’t quite figure out what they were thinking.  It wasn’t one of the new, flat TVs, it was an old tube-type TV.  I can’t believe they wanted it.  Is there a black market for ten-year old technology?

So we suffered a material loss.  The TV that we spent money on was gone, and we were going to have to spend more money to get a new one.  Also, the lock was gone.  Of course, it was a cheap lock.  We learned to always get the tamper proof locks whenever we’ll be locking things up out of our sight.

And we suffered an emotional loss.  We had to deal with all of these feelings, feelings that arose in a heartbeat, but took a long, long time to beat down.  I’m starting to see that the psychological damage that people sue for is actually a real thing.

I don’t expect this column will be read by many would-be thieves.  But maybe the economy is bad enough you’re no longer above such actions.  Please consider that there is a lot more than money or possessions at stake.  What would be your response if someone broke in stole your stuff?

This article originally appeared in the March 18, 2009, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.

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