Monday, August 30, 2010

Was it Theft or Burglary?

We have returned from Leisure Bay with sad news.   Last night Robbers broke into the unit and stole my MacBook Pro, Dad's brand new MacBook Pro, my new Lumix camera and Dad's cellphone.   They came in while we were sleeping.

I woke up this morning and saw that the laptops had gone.

I told Dad that I thought we had been robbed and he said that Josh had probably been up and put them away.  Oddly, both of us had noticed that the lights were turned on in the middle of the night.   He checked the doors and then found that the sliding door to the second floor patio was unlocked (but shut) so we became worried.  After further searching we found that my camera, the keys to the apartment complex, both computers, a cloth bag with my sunblock and Dad's cellphone were gone.  Later, the predictable "post theft" panic set in and we thought they had also stolen Ingrid's paints and the new curtains.  However, they were later found in a closet.

We reported it to the police.  The police station is an open concrete building with swept bare earth around the door where various large insects crawled in the dust.   We made the report to the sergeant who wrote it up in meticulous longhand in a small notebook.  He dictated to a subordinate who wrote the details onto a form.  They discouraged us from making a DOCKET because that would open a CASE which would require investigation, reports, statements etc.  Instead, they just gave us a case number "for the insurance".

As we gave the statement they were careful to ask if anything was forced.  At that point we thought we must have left the door unlocked but later the security service team came over and pointed to the knife marks on the door, saying it had been forced.  Dad went back to the police and changed his statement to say that there WAS forced entry.  This reclassifies the "theft" as "burglary".   

Everyone nodded and said it was probably "an inside job."  As is always the case, suspicion fell on staff - the maid who had seen the various electronic devices laid out in the house, the security guard who knew who was where and the yard staff who may have known that the key to the complex (surrounded by razor wire and barbed fences) was left on top of a fence post near the rubbish gate.

Ingrid is very upset.  She says "it is the first robbery there in 18 years."  We had a few visits from the security people who were quite concerned and walked across the roofs in front on our apartment to see how they may have come in.

Neighbors reported hearing "African accents talking on a cellphone or perhaps a guard talking on a walkie-talkie at around 1am."  Nobody is quite sure what to make of this.

Ingrid has offered a R2,000 reward.

The Really Bad Things
Is that I had just taken off the password to my computer so that Frost could play games on it (it kept logging him out and it bugged me).  However, this exposes us to financial fraud from anyone who could sue my logins and saved passwords (not many, but some).   I cannot recall what was password protected.  Thankfully, I have changed these passwords now and hope that any excel spreadsheets are meaningless to thieves who are foolish enough to walk right past 2 iPads, steal laptops and cameras without the charger (oh, the irony.  I had just charged the Lumix with the Charger Josh bought and now I have the charger but not the camera!  Argh!!!!)

Dad's new laptop is lost and cannot be replaced locally.  They are too expensive here.

I have lost all the photographs of the trip and all my journal entries for the last 5 days. I had written some damn good observations which I was quite proud of.

My camera cannot be replaced locally so I shall have to use the old camera Josh bought which has a faulty lens.

They stole the keys and so the apartment locks and passwords will have to be changed.

The Robbers were very rude and confident in choosing our apartment and turning on the lights!

The Really Good Things
Robbers were in the apartment with the whole family there and we were not attacked and did not face any nasty surprises in the night (although Josh says he would have strongly requested that they leave the goods."

They did not recognize the two iPads (because they had black covers on them and looked like notebooks).

They did not steal my passport and wallet which was in a basket right by the table.

They did not steal my Nikon binoculars or Dad's Leica binoculars.

They did not steal David's cellphone (i am using).

I have some pictures on the blog (except they are uploaded in low res) but David has the pictures from the Hindu temple so they can be replaced.

I am busy assembling information to see whether we are covered for any purchases made on our credit card and/or through the rudimentary travel insurance I bought for health concerns.  

However, we are now OK.  We are chalking it up to Experience and really, you can't buy this kind of authentic travel experience.  Joshua now has his own South African "I was robbed" story.  I am reminded of my Grandfather's advice in the face of difficulties:  "worse things happen at sea."

1 comment:

tamusana said...

hey Shannon, just catching up on the past 6 weeks or so (starting from today (12 sept) and working backwards)... totally bummed to hear about your Leisure Bay robbery... very scary really, glad your losses were all material. (I've stayed at that apt -- with the Claudes, before your dad bought it!)

On a happier note, I'm loving reading about your trip. Haven't yet taken Garrett and the boys to SA (in fact, I haven't been back since I was pregnant with Kenji!) - would love to do so.

Hope we can catch up soon. Maybe even skype? what a concept.