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©June 2004

Carol Jane Remsburg



Another Crime Statistic





Two days ago we fell victim to crime and became just another statistic.  As crimes go it could have been much worse, we had no loss of life or limb or even loss of material possessions.  However, this perpetrator did steal something that cannot be bought at any price—our illusion of safety. 


I was off from work this week so I had dropped our daughter, Erin, off at school and returned home.  I had some chores to get done plus a home hair-dye job and a quick trip to the MVA to renew my license (freshly blonded hair is a prerequisite for that trip at my age).  Yet, once back home and grabbing another cup of coffee, I turned and saw hubby coming in with a look on his face I hadn't seen in a while.  I followed him into his den and watched him open the gun cabinet.


"Have you been in the garage this morning," Don asked.


"No, I haven't," I said.


Now I was really curious and began asking questions that he wasn't answering as quickly as I wanted him to.  All I could think of was that perhaps there was a rabid skunk, fox, or raccoon or something in there and he was going to shoot it.  That scared me enough, but when he said he thought someone was in the garage, well, that scared me to death.


With a grim look on his face, he marched out of the room with his 9mm Browning in hand.  Worse, almost like the fabled television heroines, I followed him and was asking a thousand questions at light-speed.  My husband doesn't talk much, but about all I could get out of him was that he thought someone was asleep in the garage.


(Please note, the garage is a separate outbuilding—2-car garage w/workshop—kinda run-down and overcrowded with all sorts of tools and junk)


On our way back through the house and the kitchen I grabbed the phone and the phone book and called the sheriff's department and explained the situation and requested someone come immediately.  I could hear my voice shaking.  The adrenaline caused by fear came in a rush.


Hubby was out the back porch door and cautiously stepped into the garage and took another look.  Sure enough, someone was in there fast asleep.  He stepped back out and took up position by the back porch which left him a clear field of view in case the intruder woke up and decided to leave.  It was about that time I told Don he might want to turn his truck off.  Hubby had it running and had initially gone into the garage to get some swivel mechanisms he'd need to install that day at work when he came upon our sleeping beauty.


I got a look from him, but he walked over and turned his truck off—both of us thinking that had the person awakened, they could have very well made a quick getaway using Don's truck—especially because it was running and the door was open.  (Hey, sometimes I'm actually USEFUL around here.)


Don returned to his post at the back porch steps while I stood out near the road to flag down the deputy they would send out.  A state trooper went by but I couldn't catch him.  So the wait went on.  Let me tell you, if you are ever waiting for a cop of any variety, city, state, county—no matter how fast they actually get there, it's a LONG wait.  And as we reside on the outer edge of the county, it doesn't help much.


About 20 minutes later, Deputy Tull arrived.  Don advised that he would stow his firearm on the porch and accompany the deputy out to the garage.  Deputy Tull told Don that he was happy that hubby was putting his gun away.  And out they went to our rather disheveled and run-down garage (Hurricane Isabel wasn't kind to it and some of the interior insulation had fallen out of the ceiling area).


I didn't follow the men, I stood nearby on the porch so I could watch, phone in hand—just in case.  The area where our intruder was would be crowded by the two additional men so they certainly didn't need me in there if things went ugly.  Yet I stood at the ready wondering why, after all the morning noise we make, that whoever it was hadn't been awakened but the routine ruckus.  I was also counting my blessings that Erin was already off to school and didn't have to witness any of the proceedings.


The man in our garage had folded himself up on a 2' by 2' cushion that hubby had put out in the garage for the stray kitties to sleep on—then he'd covered himself up with some of the fallen insulation (he's gonna regret that move).  It took a little while for Deputy Tull to awaken the man and when he stood up, it was a very tall stringbean of a kid.  About 6' 4" –all bones.  He was so skinny I wondered when he'd had his last meal.


I mentally gauged his age at 19 at the maximum.  I later found out from the deputy that the boy was 20, had just been arrested and released the day before for 'drunk and disorderly' and released on his own recognizance.  His mother had picked him up from jail and they argued on the way home and she kicked him out of the car.  Thus he wandered along the road, saw the lights on in our garage and took shelter.


Don immediately felt sorry for the kid.  He does that all the time, he's SUCH a softie—but doesn't want a soul to know it—but he can overcome that 'softie' part too.  When THAT nasty beast is 'roused—nobody wants to be in the same state—much less close vicinity.  However, I was of a different mindset altogether for two reasons—and neither simply because he broke the law.  #1—I've got a 13 year-old daughter. (I really need no other reason now do I?), but #2—even though he's essentially a kid, teens like these can kill others.  So when Deputy Tull asked if we wanted to press charges, I told him YES!  Hubby was glad I saved him the trouble over struggling with that decision.


Now, brief flashback to the wait for the deputy, I saw something in the backyard—just behind that rather large brush pile I keep wanting to burn—and commented on that to hubby.  However, both of us were so focused on the immediate situation that neither of us got back to it.


Meanwhile, Deputy Tull cuffed the boy, read him his rights, and took him away under a lesser burglary charge.  That done, hubby had to go to work, and I had my other chores to attend.  Adrenaline spent, got back into my bathrobe and opened the box of L'Oreal and slopped the glop on my head, set the timer to 30 minutes before I could shower up and be presentable to the world and hopefully my drivers license photo wouldn't be as hideous as the last one. 


Life back to normal—right?  Wrong!


My retired neighbor, Lewis, was at my backdoor in a flash.  He and his wife, Pauline, had been watching with interest the show going on at our house.  Somehow Pauline had missed the intruder—Lewis swore he was gonna 'fire her' because this woman misses NOTHING—and I like it that way.  Anyway, he brought to my attention, gloppy hair, bathrobe and all—that there WAS something behind the brush pile that was, ahem, what we lovingly dub the stick pile.  What it WAS was some of hubby's tools and yard stuff; the blower, the hedge-trimmer, the weedeater, AND his really good TRIM saw on a table with wheels.  They were just standing out there like someone was going to pick them up somehow.  Apparently the little boy was rather industrious late in the night and took them out there.  How he was going to get them picked up or taken away, who knows?


Thus I was back on the phone to the sheriff's department to report that—all the while trying to keep the 'hair-dye glop' off the phone.  They advised he'd call me back which he did and told me he'd be out later in the day.  I ran out and covered it all up with a tarp as it was threatening to rain---still with hair-dye glop and bathrobe on.


Finally I could hit the shower and make myself slightly more presentable and began the wait for the deputy to return to take pictures of the attempted theft.  And I waited, and waited, and knew it would be a while more—but I wait like that.


Deputy Tull arrived around 1 PM, he interviewed the neighbor over what he had discovered and took pictures of the equipment so I could take it back into the garage.  Plus, he had more information for me.  He advised that the boy was a heroin addict—that pretty much made sense over his bony appearance and all the candy he had with him.  Plus, he was amending the charges on the boy, now it would be a felony.  They would likely keep him now until trial because he'd been arrested twice in less than 24 hours. 


Then came the wait for Erin to come home.  This was explosive news for her.  Ever the little drama-queen I certainly expected her to become inconsolable for about 24 hours and the ramifications of it would be very bad; the screams, the tears, the fears, and all the rest—for at LEAST a month's duration of hell.  Hubby and I had decided early on that HE would be the one to tell her about it.  Somehow whenever I tell her anything, she goes nuclear.  Thus, it was a time of avoidance from the time she arrived home from school until her father came home.  Erin knew right away something wasn't right—don't ask me how, I wasn't showing any emotion, but some things hadn't been done around the house and she knew…worse, I hadn't run my errands and she wanted to know why.  I just kept telling her that she'd find out later.  I wasn't going to lie to her—she HATES that and for truth, that's not fair either.  We ended up working on a school project that ate up about an hour so that helped.  Once her father came home, he sat her down on the porch and explained it all with me just a few feet away but not within her view.


Afterwards, she came into my office, sat down on my lap (and 13 is BIG to still be doing that), and wanted the entire story again.  I gave it to her—expecting huge tears, the shakes, the drama, and a whiplash of anger.  Guess what?  None of that happened.  She hugged me, told me she loved me and thought her dad and I were very brave…and could she use the phone now?  She wanted to call Elly and tell her all about it.


For the last few hours I had been agonizing over how I was going to get through the night without SOMEBODY getting tranquilized.  And SHE wants to use the phone.  Go figure!


The next morning I kept Erin home from school, we had an appointment.  And guess what I hear from the kitchen?


"Mom!  There's a cop here!"


Bless his heart, it was Deputy Tull back again.  He simply needed the values of the items the boy had attempted to steal.  That provided, he left and supplied just a little more information—the boy WAS 20.  The likelihood of his reformation even after a heroin detox was unlikely, and that he really hoped we'd be there at the trial.  That there was a small chance, a slim chance, but the boy might work a second chance to get off the bad stuff.


Deputy Tull also appears a very young man in my eyes—my 40+ eyes.  He was very professional, very careful, and quite thorough in everything.  I'm very blessed that Don, my husband was home.  A few years back, hubby would have awakened the boy himself—with gun drawn and that's not good.  However, Don was a gun dealer at one time and has great self-control—I don't have that.  When in mommy-mode I could have been a bit more dangerous.  I'm glad I wasn't and didn't have to be.


I grew up with guns in the house, was taught how to handle them, fire them, and hit what I shoot at.  I won't point without firing or give a pleading, repeated warning.  I could have been the one to go to jail on Wednesday.  Now we just have to go to court. 


A statistic?  Yes, we are one now.  The little boy, the young man—may not have made off with the goods but he stole something very dear from me; my sense of safety.  We've lived here nearly 20 years without any kind of incident like this—often with doors unlocked.  None will remain so from here on out.  Worse would be for the next unlucky soul to wander in about the dark.  Yea, I'm in Mommy-mode and I hope those ranging about know it.  Some folks don't trust me with fires, others should know better about the guns.  I have my own and hubby isn't always here to stay me.


Lock your doors, turn ON your lights, and sleep lightly.


Keep safe out there. 


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