The one where we get burgled.

Monday mornings aren’t my favourite or my best for all kinds of reasons – but this morning there was an extra sting in the tail – we were burgled last night.

Yep. Last night, some time around 4am, some scumbag broke into the house where Flea and I were sleeping, and rifled through the kitchen, dining room and lounge – helping themselves to some of our belongings in the meantime.

I’m a HUGE believer that things are just things, and can be replaced – or if not replaced, lived without perfectly easily. So it’s not the end of the world.

But I do feel mystified by a mentality that tells someone it’s okay to sneak into a house and steal things that belong to someone else. I just don’t get it. And if you’re the kind of person who steals a child’s toys – and their piggy bank – you’re a scumbag. No two ways about it.

By a quite extraordinary stroke of luck, the police stopped the suspected burglar within a few hours – he was driving a car that had been stolen from one of our neighbours, who was also burgled. Inside the car the police found my laptop and phone, Flea’s DS, and some items belonging to other local residents.

The items in question have now been sealed in evidence bags and taken off for finger-printing, so I’m not sure exactly when we’ll get them back but I feel incredibly fortunate that we WILL get them back, eventually. Big thanks to our local police for being on the ball. Although my house does look like it’s been occupied by a family of careless miners – every window, door, floor and surface is *covered* with dust. Ugh.

What’s interesting, though, is the police told me the name of the chap who they arrested this morning.  He’s local, and well known to the police.

I Googled his name and found the suspected burglar in minutes. He’s a self-confessed alcoholic and drug addict. He’s homeless, jobless, and has a dirty great knife scar across his face. He has more than 80 criminal offences on his record. And he was sentenced to 18 months in prison less than four months ago. Not the sort of person you’d want in your house at 4am, to say the least.

Our man was sent to prison and immediately appealed against his sentence. The result? Just a week ago, three judges ruled his sentence was too severe and this guy deserved “one final chance” – so he was released. Free to roam the streets and climb through a window into a home where a six-year-old is sleeping. Thanks for that, appeal judges. It’s great to know you’re out there, keeping us safe. 

I’m all in favour of rehabilitation and second chances, and understanding the underlying causes of crime. Of course that’s important. Really important.

But it seems CRAZY to me that someone has a record of committing almost 90 burglaries, and can be let out of prison 12 months early because they deserve “another chance”.  Sod that. My kid deserves to sleep safely at night. I deserve not to have to change all the locks on my house and my car. Isn’t that more important?




Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. wendy
    6th August 2012 / 5:08 pm

    Sally I know exactly how you feel, the same thing happened to us. We were asleep upstairs. The house for me felt like it had been violated, I never got over the fact that a stranger had invaded our house.

    I am glad they found the scum and yes I agree the justice system is all wrong.

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:44 pm

      Oh, Wendy, that sounds awful. I’m glad in some ways I know he wasn’t in the bedrooms or in Flea’s room – it doesn’t feel quite so bad, somehow. Bad enough, mind.

  2. HPMcQ
    6th August 2012 / 5:05 pm

    that’s outrageous 80 offences and he gets another chance?? that is totally bonkers, actually WTF??

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:43 pm

      I know. WTF exactly.

  3. 6th August 2012 / 5:06 pm

    OMG, How awful for you! ILike you, I believe that posessions can be replaced or lived without; instead it is the thought of a stranger being in my house as my children sleep rifling through our things. I’m glad that you and Flea were not hurt in the process! I can’t believe that he was “given another chance”…they must know that someone with that background obviously HAS NOT learnt his lesson!!
    Hope you get your belonging back soon xxx
    Rachel recently posted..Week 31My Profile

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:43 pm

      Thanks, he’s now been charged so hopefully all resolved soon.

  4. Minerva Collection
    6th August 2012 / 6:13 pm

    It is absolutely ridiculous. I hope you’ll be able to feel safe in your home again.

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:48 pm

      Thanks. We’ll be good, I’m sure.

  5. 6th August 2012 / 5:16 pm

    I totally get where you are coming from. Your circumstances were far more awful than mine, which almost seems laughable but the HOW DARE THEY sentiment remains the same. I blogged a rant too – yours is a little more restrained! The police were really good, actually arrested someone the same night and gave me his name. I’m so pleased they caught this scumbag but it’s disgusting that he isn’t locked up
    Indefinetly. Mind you, being homeless, it might be why he keeps reoffending. Where else will he get a warm bed and three meals a day.

    I hope you find peace of mind soon xx
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    • 6th August 2012 / 9:44 pm

      Thanks – I do actually feel a degree of sympathy for someone who has no network, no family, no fixed abode – of COURSE I do. But to appeal against a sentence and argue that you want to be reformed, and consistently then break into people’s homes within days of release – ugh. It’s just not on.

  6. 6th August 2012 / 5:16 pm

    Awful to think someone with a record like that was downstairs whilst you slept!?! Urgh am so angry right now , you have every right to rant! How awful to think the guy was let out so recently and went straight back to committing crimes.
    I wonder if it is normal practise for the police to tell the victim who the robber is? What if you decide to settle it yourself? Not saying you’re the type to don knuckle dusters and a blow torch but hey!

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:45 pm

      I am not sure why they let slip the name- I guess I need to work on my menacing demeanour!

  7. 6th August 2012 / 5:18 pm

    Ooo something went wrong. I didn’t recently post 31 weeks- I’ll put Rachelradiostar as my
    Name in case that was it.
    Rachel xx
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    • 6th August 2012 / 9:45 pm


  8. 6th August 2012 / 5:19 pm

    Thats awful, I hope little one and yourself are ok mentally, the justice system is pants over here, someone like him should have his hands cut off and if he has so many issues with drink, homelessness etc he needs some help via a mental health unit in my opinion xxxx
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    • 6th August 2012 / 9:45 pm

      Thanks, lovely.

  9. Molly
    6th August 2012 / 5:20 pm

    Rubbish thing to go through. I remember being burgled back when I was a kid – I was old enough to understand but young enough not to be able to rationalise it. For ages I’d be terrified to be the last one to fall asleep in the house, in case I came face to face with a burglar again. Good you got your stuff back though.

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:45 pm

      Yes, hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

  10. 6th August 2012 / 5:22 pm

    So sorry this happened Sally…
    You’re right…you right to feel safe is more important than his right to a second chance. Here’s hoping a more sensible judge sentences him this time.
    Take care, Karen

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:46 pm

      Thanks – I really hope he gets the book thrown at him.

  11. Nikki
    6th August 2012 / 5:31 pm

    Hi Sally,

    So sorry to hear about this – I hope you are bearing up, such a horrid feeling. Also hope Flea is ok – not sure why but my 7 yr old takes worrying things to heart and I know something like that would seriously worry her. Big, gentle – and no contact of course, hugs. xxxx

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:46 pm

      Flea thought it was a grand adventure and believes her pointing out the fingerprints was CRITICAL in cracking the case 🙂

      • Nikki
        8th August 2012 / 8:55 am

        Bless her…..hope all has settled down a bit now – and that you get your belongings back soon.

  12. Diane
    6th August 2012 / 5:32 pm

    Ugh, that’s awful, and so scary to think of him in the house while you were asleep. I’m so glad they caught him and can hopefully send him back to prison for a bit longer this time! I’m all for rehabilitation (in part because I don’t want criminals sent back out to offend like this) but someone should also be punished for having committed that many crimes.

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:47 pm

      Yes, there’s rehabilitation and then there’s accepting that continuing to put someone back on the street with no demonstrated change or improvement is just going to lead to the same result, over and over…

  13. 6th August 2012 / 6:01 pm

    Hideous and what a horrible horrible thing that it happened while you were sleeping. So glad they caught him and let’s hope this time the judge is less lenient. Can they add the unserved 12 months on to the next sentence I wonder? Awkward hugs x
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    • 6th August 2012 / 9:47 pm

      Thanks – I presume his suspended sentence will be added on to the new sentence. Hope so.

  14. 6th August 2012 / 6:04 pm

    It’s not the stuff so much as the feeling that someone undesirable came univited into your home and poked about in your things. Both the violation and the threat. Horrible to have done to you. I hope you get cleaned up and your gear back asap.
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    • 6th August 2012 / 9:47 pm

      Thanks! Will be nice to get all the dust off the floors!

  15. Eggdipdip
    6th August 2012 / 8:31 pm

    Oh my goodness that’s awful! Hope you both manage a peaceful night tonight, secure in the knowledge the scumbag is safely locked up.

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:49 pm

      Thanks, I hope we both sleep, too!

  16. Kelly Wiffin
    6th August 2012 / 8:44 pm

    I can’t believe that they let him out. It must be a horrible feeling. It is something that I fear sometimes round here, lovely area but there are a few characters.

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:49 pm

      We live in a really nice area, which is extra irony – you wouldn’t expect it here!

  17. 6th August 2012 / 7:49 pm

    This is awful! I hope you are ok? It takes time to get over a break-in and I found myself getting rather paranoid checking locks and checking again.

    The fabulous thing is they’ve caught him.

    We’ve been burgled before we had littlies, then a few weeks ago we had an intruder in our garden that attempted to break in.

    It makes me so angry that these people feel they have a right to take what they want but then you have to remember its not personal.

    It’s terrifying and yet the majority of these people have no idea the terror they cause.

    I hope you’re ok. It’s a really crap thing to happen.

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:48 pm

      I had an intruder once when I lived in Brighton – booted in the door and snatched my wallet. This one seemed worse somehow, because we were sleeping. I’m often conscious of how vulnerable we are, when it’s just the two of us. Ugh. Just ugh.

  18. TheBoyandMe
    6th August 2012 / 7:58 pm

    I’m so sorry for you both, awful news. And the lack of morals to break into someone’s house while they sleep is horrendous. I’d say that the burglar had a second chance after the first conviction, 80+ later proves he deserves no chances. Hope your home returns to ‘normal’ as soon as possible.

    You don’t like them, but hug.

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:49 pm

      Thanks – yes, I agree, there’s second chances then there’s just someone who is committed to a life of crime, and I’m not sure they deserve second chances.

  19. Vegemitevix
    6th August 2012 / 9:50 pm

    Bollocks what a horrible thing to go through. Two good things though – thank God they got your stuff back and that Flea didn’t wake up whilst he was in the house. I was about Flea’s age when I woke to a man in my room when we were living in Fiji. I pretended I didn’t see him, but after he’d left my room I went into Mum and Dad and told them. They thought I was having nightmares at first and told me to sleep with them, but then they had bumps in the house. They investigated but didn’t catch him. The Fijian police did though, and you can be certain he wasn’t let out for ‘one final chance’. Vix x

    • 6th August 2012 / 10:02 pm

      Yes, the only annoying thing is they recovered everything except my purse and keys – the purse I can live without but no keys means all new locks – he took the front and back and car keys, so it’s a lot of fuss and expense I could do without. Ack. Still, you live and learn, eh?

      How terrifying to have someone in your room – makes my blood run cold. So glad you were ok, though.

  20. 6th August 2012 / 9:27 pm

    That is hideous for you to have gone thru. One of my worst nightmares. Esp with a little one in the house. The sense of having your refuge invaded must be chilling and infuriating and extremely hard to shake. I can’t imagine.
    If it were me in the position of power I would probably not have wanted to let that guy out. It does seem ridiculous when he has so many crimes to his name.
    But, if I can be the lone dissenter amongst your commenters to set the cat amongst the pigeons, your post makes me think about the problem with principles. Actually it reminded me of John O’Farrell’s recent feature about sticking to his principles when it came to educating his children in state school and how much I admired him for being strong about it.
    When you wrote about your transgressor’s background; his drug and alcohol problems, his homelessness, I felt sympathy for him. (Overlooking the car) he’s not taking these fairly minor items of mostly little monetary value out of spite, but out of desperation. Can you imagine how hard his life is? You know some of his circumstances but not all. Maybe he has dependents. Maybe a judicial system that like so many things in our society can be influenced to favour the well off, let him down and there were genuine reasons why that 18 month sentence was too strict. We don’t know. What’s important is to not see him as a mugshot, not to see him for his criminal history, but to attempt to see him as an individual, and without the information at hand to do that, we can’t be in a position to judge him.
    This is what my principles tell me. But of course it it were my home he broke into, and my laptop and my kid’s DS he took, I’d wanna see him banged up for life.

    • 6th August 2012 / 9:58 pm

      You know I know where you’re coming from.

      I’m a left-wing, liberal sort and I believe in rehabilitation and addressing the causes of crime, and all that sort of thing. And when I first read that this guy has no family, and substance abuse issues and no fixed abode – well, of course, I feel sympathy. I think he must have a tough life, and one that’s lacking in joy.

      But if someone is jailed repeatedly and every time they’re released they’re given the option of support from local groups and charities – and every single time they’ve re-offended and been caught within a matter of DAYS… well, it’s chronic recidivism, isn’t it?

      On the one hand, I’m angry with him. Addiction is a desperate thing but it doesn’t excuse you from basic moral codes. Stealing stuff is wrong. Stealing stuff from little kids is both despicable and wrong.

      And I’m way MORE angry with a judicial system that keeps turfing this bloke out of prison, knowing full well he’s going to break into a house or business the first chance he gets. To release him 12 months early because “he seemed contrite”? Sorry. Stupid decision, and if that decision results in my 6 year old kid having to learn that people can break into your home while you’re sleeping and steal your stuff, damn right I’m going to be pissed off about it.

      • 6th August 2012 / 11:12 pm

        *makes thumbs up*

  21. 6th August 2012 / 9:35 pm

    Sorry to hear that you and Flea have had to go through that. I was burgled years ago and the scumbag in question climbed in to my sons bedroom via the conservatory. I too agree things are just things and can be replaced but seeing a big dirty footprint on my sons pillow when I came home just made me really angry. It was the violation of our space I resented the most.

    Let’s hope this time round there’s a judge that hasn’t got hoover dust for brains overseeing things…
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    • 6th August 2012 / 9:58 pm

      It’s horrid isn’t it? Still, the police seem confident he’ll go straight back to prison, where he belongs.

  22. 6th August 2012 / 9:41 pm

    I cannot BELIEVE anyone would take a child’s piggy bank. Why? Just WHY? And why was he let out of prison? Thing is, I reckon there are actually very few burglars, just the same minority doing the whole lot.When I was growing up, the police arrested two young lads who they reckoned were responsible for every single burglary in my local area during that year. Scumbags.

    • 6th August 2012 / 10:01 pm

      Agreed – this chap burgled (we think) 3 properties last night, and he’d just got out of prison for doing 7 burglaries in our town within the space of a week or so. It’s a job, for them, I guess.

    • 6th August 2012 / 11:22 pm

      Replying to Pret-a-Mummy. People steal from charity shops too. I know this because I worked for a mental health charity that ran several and you would see people pinching stuff all the time.
      Why? Because they’re desperate. And because they don’t attach the same meaning (or in the case of a kid’s money box, emotional attachment) to it as *we* do. They would steal the collection boxes too. Speaking hypothetically of course it feels personal because it’s your personal stuff, but it’s not personal for them, you were just the one they chose that night. Luck of the draw.
      Re: Sally’s sitch it certainly does seem crazy to have let him out but it sounds as tho the police knew he would try something and were keeping an eye on him. Thank goodness.

  23. 6th August 2012 / 10:02 pm

    It’s totally shocking that this scumbag was released. It’s not just the theft of belongings but an invasion of your privacy and security. It brings tears to my eyes to think someone could steal from a child. I’m so glad he’s been caught. You seem to be handling it remarkably well. I’d be a wreck if it happened to me. Well done on being an admirably strong lady. Xx
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    • 8th August 2012 / 10:47 am

      I suppose I just think we were very lucky, all things considered.

  24. 7th August 2012 / 5:01 am

    What an awful thing to happen, Sally. And it does seem strange that he was let out so quickly. I also find it very odd that they told you his name, though I suppose you’re going to find out eventually.

    Great that you’re going to get a lot of your stuff back.

    And get a big dog. Our dog has scared away burglars on at least three occasions (two to our house and one to our neighbour’s) that we know of and he is also known in the local burglar community (my dad overheard him being discussed in the pub one night). (He’s a big softie really, but he looks really scary if he’s barking and growling at you, which he has a tendency to do to people coming in uninvited – even just through the back gate.)
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    • 8th August 2012 / 10:48 am

      Our dog (who we no longer have) would be RUBBISH with burglars – far too friendly! Disappointed in the cats, mind.

  25. 7th August 2012 / 6:31 am

    I am so sorry to hear this happened to you, but glad the police managed to catch the scumbag so quickly. I hope that knowing he was locked up last night helped you and Flea sleep easier. I hope there’s no nonsense about letting him out early this time too! A pain to not get all your stuff back, but thankfully it’s just stuff, and neither you nor Flea were hurt. Hope it’s not too much hassle to get the rest of everything sorted.
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    • 8th August 2012 / 10:48 am

      Thanks – I’ve no idea when we’ll get stuff back but hopefully not too long.

  26. 7th August 2012 / 7:44 am

    Seriously crap – 80 previous convictions and they let him out?!!! Got to be a serious flaw in the system because that is downright ridiculous. Glad they caught him and so sorry it happened to you. I do know the emotions you go through when your sanctity is invaded as have been burgled myself on a few occasions living in London and of course here in Suffolk. I got really cross and scared not befcause of things per se but because I like to consider my home as safe.
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    • 8th August 2012 / 10:48 am

      Yes, I’m a bit nervous of checking doors and windows at the mo.

  27. 7th August 2012 / 7:47 am

    Sounds horrific. Know how I felt when I was burgled & that was pre child & I wasn’t in. Hated the fact that they’d been in my home & broken things. The stealing was inconvenient, but replaceable.
    Really would like to think that the judges would get some feedback this week about the outcome of their recent decision, but don’t have sufficient faith in the justice system to count on it.
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    • 8th August 2012 / 10:49 am

      Yes, I do hope the judges who let him out hear what he’s been up to.

  28. 7th August 2012 / 7:51 am

    Ugh. Crap. Scrw belongings and whatever, buit I remember the feeling of insecurity and …well, plain uncomfort… in my own home. Felt like someone tried on your knickers and handed them back afterwards. Yuck. And that was BEFORE I had a kid.
    Hang in there.

    • 8th August 2012 / 10:49 am

      Thanks, we are definitely hanging.

  29. 7th August 2012 / 9:30 am

    Absolutely awful.
    I am glad they have caught him, and hope that this time they see sense and get him off of our streets and into a prison cell.
    I know how it feels, as we have been burgled twice now and I also had someone try to get into the house a few weeks a go while I was at home on my own with all of the children. It can be a very scary thing to happen, so I am sending you lots of virtual hugs. (they won’t help, but I’m sending them anyway).
    Fingers crossed that you and Flea get your possessions back sooner rather than later and that you can try and get things back to normal for the both of you.

    P.S – I HATE that finger print dust. Absolute nightmare to get rid of.

    • 8th August 2012 / 10:49 am

      Thanks – the dust is horrible, isn’t it?

  30. 7th August 2012 / 1:16 pm

    I fell so sorry and angry for you. I will never understand how the jail system works. how can a man who is a habitual criminal get less jail term them the 2 guys who used Facebook to incite a riot. I hope they throw the book at your burglar.

    • 8th August 2012 / 10:57 am

      Weird, isn’t it?

  31. Aly
    7th August 2012 / 1:58 pm

    I saw your photos on Instagram yesterday I was horrified.Your the third person I know who has been burgled in the last few days.I’m astounded that this guy has been given a ‘second chance’, it sounds like he’s been so many second chances.I hope he goes down for good this time.How has Flea taken?

    • 8th August 2012 / 10:58 am

      Flea is EXCITED at her crime-busting abilities 🙂

  32. Mel
    7th August 2012 / 9:14 pm

    that’s awful – its the thought of someone in your home and how easy they managed to do it without waking you.
    we have a dog who is also our door bell (barks at the slightest knock) but I do wonder if he’d bark at an intruder?
    we had a bike stolen from the front of the house in broad daylight which I found disturbing enough
    I hope that the police give you your stuff back soon, but it is just stuff. change the locks and add another one just to be sure.

    • 8th August 2012 / 10:58 am

      Yes, locks are being changed definitely!

    • 8th August 2012 / 10:58 am

      Thanks, we’re okay, though, honest 🙂

    • 8th August 2012 / 10:58 am

      I might need to buy her a deerstalker…

  33. 9th August 2012 / 3:10 pm

    It’s shocking, the same thing happened to us when a drug addict broke into my parents house when I was there at the time. He got caught in the house but got off with it if he entered a drug rehab program.
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  34. One Mother's Notes
    10th August 2012 / 6:17 pm

    Wow, how flipping terrifying! I’m so lad you’re ok. Maybe if that judge had been ‘visited’ by this man himself or one if his children his opinion old be different. Even if he does deserve another chance surel he should be booked into some sort of rehab programme?! To me it seems this guy is not going to change his spots. Stupid judge.

  35. One Mother's Notes
    10th August 2012 / 6:17 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Wow, how flipping terrifying! I’m so lad you’re ok. Maybe if that judge had been ‘visited’ by this man himself or one if his children his opinion old be different. Even if he does deserve another chance surel he should be booked into some sort of rehab programme?! To me it seems this guy is not going to change his spots. Stupid judge.

  36. 12th August 2012 / 9:32 pm

    I am so glad that you are ok . It is shocking to be burgled its destroys so many peoples lives .
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  37. Nikki
    16th August 2012 / 11:54 am

    Ugh! This sort of thing makes my blood boil. My family home was burgled some years ago, and whilst they didn’t get away with much, (seriously the most stupid burglars in the history of burglars. Instead of taking a box full of my Dads antique watches they took a box of buttons, leaving the box of watches on the landing, and completely missing the cinema room with piles of DVDs and easy to sell, instead taking a remote control. We think they took the remote, we’ve never been able to find it since) it’s the thought of someone being in your home. It’s a violation of your personal space. Fortunately no one was at home on that occassion, but I was unable to sleep in my room for weeks (at least until I’d cleaned and bleached it completely) with the thought they’d been in there. I’m so glad you’ve managed to recover your belongings, and I can only hope that this delightful excuse for a human being is sentenced properly this time!