I've been robbed -- literally. And while it wasn't at gunpoint, and no physical harm came to me or my family, the robbery was both traumatic and painful.
Over the past two months I have listened as high-ranking police officials and even Detroit's deputy mayor came to my neighborhood and talked about the gradual reductions in crime our area is experiencing. I bought it, reluctantly, because I have noticed over the past year that officers are walking beats in our area and police response times have improved dramatically. My neighbors agree.
Now when we see something suspicious or notice a code violation and place a call to our local police district, a scout car is out before you have a chance to mumble about them never coming to yourself. My wife and I talked about the improvement on a few occasions lately. We delighted in seeing that, despite the growing number of foreclosures and resulting vacant homes on our street, at least we could count on the police to be there when needed.
Since being violated, however, none of that really matters.
It happened on President's Day (now the day has relevance to me) and it was not a random act. Someone was watching and waiting, and 40 minutes after leaving the house the alarm company called me. Before I could get back to the house, the police also called me. And by the time I arrived home the officers had secured the house, as best they could, and headed back to the station. All of this in less than an hour. I arrived to find a broken window and not a soul in sight.
Thanks to the trusty alarm the burglar seemed to sense he was short on time, the police and I theorize. He (or she) took just enough to disrupt my life, including some items that are irreplaceable, things that could be grabbed quickly and carried out through a window. My wife reminds me that we weren't cleaned out and no one was injured, and I am thankful. I'm also a bit hurt, psychologically.
This is the second home I have occupied as an adult in Detroit. For those 17 years, have never had a problem until now. I have always been security conscious, invested in security doors and alarm monitoring (even though a DPD executive friend once told me it was a waste of money), and was always as cautious as could be.
Like most Detroiters I have had more discussions than I can remember with suburban friends about crime in the city. They wonder why we are willing to put up with it.
Well, we are not. Detroiters are hoping that as we attract new businesses downtown and national attention for our renaissance, our neighborhoods, schools, quality of services and level of safety will also improve. That is the hope to which I've been clinging anyway. I really wanted to believe the rhetoric coming from police and city administrators about the crime needle tipping toward the positive. I never thought I would be a victim.
Now, all I can think about is what will happen the next time someone breaks in.