we wuz robbed! who's in your house??

pecanpieJanuary 26, 2006

Who'd a thunk it? Almost a year with workmen crawling all over our house, day in and day out- and not a thing touched- not a hair out of place. But last week, we had a small section of carpet replaced upstairs, and immediately discovered a significant amount of cash missing. No jewelry that I can tell, passports are accounted for, but a wad from DH's drawer and a stash in DS's sock drawer (how desperate were these guys to even ENTER a teen-aged boy's closet- ew!) are gone. I was downstairs with our cabinet guy while he finished the install above the desk area.

It's cash- it's fungible - it's gone.

OK- here's the lowdown on the guys who were in our house. Two of the 3 have criminal records. The foreman has priors for concealing stolen property, larceny, violation of protection order, and so forth. He's the guy in charge. Not reassuring.

Mr. Penitentary, the other guy, is on a work release program. He's been to prison (hard core prison, people- none of this baby county jail stuff) 3 times. Multiple larcenies, drug possession, aiding a prisoner's escape, attempted escape, multiple felonies, etc., etc. My eyebrows are still in my hairline after finding out that a company that has workers IN CUSTOMERS' HOMES would hire these people.

It's amazing what you can find out with names. Add birthdates to that and it's a treasure trove. If I can do it, the contractors can do it. WHAT are these people thinking?

Of course I filed a police report. My fear is that although there is not enough evidence to file charges on these guys, they'll lose their jobs and decide to get even. They know where I live and that I'm a SAHM. Our police department has the house on a stepped-up watch, and I have very heavy All-Clad that I can swing with remarkable precision... Hell hath no fury like a menopausal woman who is PO'd. Grrrrrrr.

I have learned a hard lesson. From now on, in similar situations, I will ask the following questions before having people I do not know working in/around my house-

-Exactly what crew is assigned to come out?

-Full names of all? Birthdates? (in the public domain- not a privacy issue)

-Do you do background checks on your workers? Are you aware of any criminal records?

Then, because I am a lawyer and a nerd, I will email a confirmation of our conversation so I have a record of it.

I can't get too upset- they didn't take any heirlooms, no destruction. But I guess it's a work-release jungle out there- so be careful, y'all!

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proudmamato4

I'm so sorry, pecan! Something like this makes you feel so violated, doesn't it. I cannot believe that this company isn't bonded!!!! That's my main question before I let people work in my house. How did you find out so much about them? I wish you the best in recovering your property, and also in your safety.

Proudmama

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:42AM
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pecanpie

Thanks, Proudmama. Somewhere up that food chain some entity is bonded. I will research that after the detectives have done their job. I'm not hopeful, because I suspect there's a minimum(deductable) of about $1000, but the company may pony up anyway just to maintain goodwill in the area.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 1:30PM
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mrsmarv

Whenever we have work done by people who are not "regulars" to us, either DH or myself will "baby sit" them while they work. We don't care if we get odd/dirty looks or have someone attempt to make us feel uncomfortable...we can stare down with the best of them LOL. It's our house and our stuff, and we work very hard to have what we do. I'm sorry you had such an awful experience.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 1:31PM
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pirula

Jeez that sucks. It makes you want to hose your house down with Lysol!!

Ivette

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 1:59PM
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cupofkindness

Here in Dallas, flooring companies, landscaping companies, contractors, etc. routinely pick up unemployed men from "Day Laborer Centers" (which could be a real building in place to serve this group or a run down restaurant and anything in between). Unnerving, because you really can't be sure that the men who are on your property are even known by name, let alone their criminal or legal status. Plus, 9 times out of 10 you can't even talk to them anyway since you don't speak their language well enough.

Anyway, Pecan, I'm so sorry that you were robbed. I'm glad you called the police. I don't think you have to worry about retribution, since you've shown that you'll fight back, those lowlife vermin will stay far away from you and will look for another target. But keep your doors locked, just in case. And that company, can you sue them for negligence?

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 2:01PM
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fairegold

Remember the Elizabeth Smart case in Utah a couple of years ago? The day laborer didn't steal money, but he cased out the house and the family, and came back in the middle of the night and took the child. Lucky case, the child was found a year later, with no visible scars. But I can only imagine that she is scarred for life inside.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 2:25PM
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jerzeegirl

Regarding the "sock" drawer (or underwear drawer), this is the first place thieves look (especially for jewelry). I have learned my lesson - I now place my valuables anywhere BUT the sock drawer.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 2:58PM
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paulines

Definitely suxs, pecanpie! I'm sorry this happenned to you and your family and I hope the thief(ves) chokes on a cheeseburger!!!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 3:51PM
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sue36

Where were you able to find out the records of these guys where it is public information? That would be a great resource.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 4:47PM
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rococogurl

This is terrible. May I also suggest you explore a burglar alarm? Especially as they have been all over your hourse.

We have one and I always feel comfortable when it's on.

I'm so sorry this happened. It's a horrible feeling but at least it was just cash, no jewelry or stuff with sentimental value.

(((((((Pecan)))))))) I am so sorry.

(this is fatlester using new logon)

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 6:57PM
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bill_vincent

pecanpie-- as crazy as it sounds the first guy I'd rule out is the guy on work release. I've HAD guys on work release work for me before (when I was a commercial contractor), and that's an extreme honor for those guys, and they have to work hard to earn it. 99.9% of them will do whatever it takes to keep from screwing that up. Chances are it was someone else on the crew figuring that the convict would get pinned for it without looking anywhere else. I'd look at the foreman.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:18PM
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lilathabit

I'm really sorry to hear about this pecanpie, I know this isn't going to make you feel any better, but it definitely could have been worse.

Close to where I live, a legitimate contractor used a day laborer to work on the crew. When the guys went out to lunch, the day laborer stayed behind, broke into the home and did the unthinkable to the homeowner. It was heartbreaking and frightening to hear this story.

I have been too freaked out ever since to hire a contractor. Even if the company is well known, who knows who they end up picking up to help out.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 11:27PM
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reno_fan

PECAN!!!!!!!!! Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry to hear that! As a fellow Okie who was burgled last year, I know just how you feel. We weren't stripped of anything super important either, but it did leave me feeling so touchy and on guard.

We've had a string of robberies in our area lately. My neighbor 2 doors down is a DEA agent, and her husband is a Sherriff(sp?). They were robbed last month, and the crooks had to walk right by their stinkin' work GUNS sitting in the kitchen. They didn't take those, and went for other valuables instead.

Without sounding too alarmist, have you considered informing your neighbors? Not that they'd pick the same carpet installers or anything, but around here we leave our garage doors open when doing projects, back gates open so kids can come and go, etc. After I was robbed, then my police neighbors, we banded together to let the neighborhood know so that we could all batten down our hatches a bit better.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 8:43AM
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susanfnp

I'm so sorry this happened to you! I know how violated this makes you feel. About 10 years ago our home was burglarized at night while we slept. We could never prove anything, but I always suspected the gardener who had showed up the day before, saying our usual guy had had to go back to Central America. Stupid me, I didn't get his name or anything, and I never saw him again. I figured he had ample opportunity while he was working to look in our windows and see the layout of the house and where all our stuff was (computers, TV, etc.) so they could get in and out quickly.

Now we're looking at getting a new roof. Even though the guys won't be coming into the house, I'm going to make sure I ask those questions you listed, Pecan. Thanks for the reminder that you can't be too careful.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 11:16AM
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pecanpie

Thanks for the hugs and reassurances, y'all.

Cup, you're right, there's a negligence factor here. But no, we're not going the legal route. That said, I could see filing a claim in small claims court, or making noises to that effect. It would cost them more to defend than to reimburse us and make us go away.

proudmama, if you Google your state name, 'criminal' and 'record', you'll get lots of options. Don't pay for this stuff- you can get it yourself if you dig. The second site I clicked on pulled up their pictures- it gave me the willies to see their mug shots next to a list of their offenses.

Fairegold, I am a little concerned after seeing your post. They were working in DivaD1's room, and her framed pictures on her bookcase and dressers were catty-wampus. I hadn't really felt that 'violated' until I realized they had been handling the pictures of her and her friends. They are gorgeous girls, and they'd be blind not to see the pictures, but to pick them up????

Steph, I hadn't realized you were having 'incidents' in your neighborhood. Any chance that it's the same kid you suspected when your camera disappeared?

Bill, interesting point about the work release guy. Of course, I have no idea who did it, but with these records, neither of these men should have been in my house. Get this- the two men with the records are brothers-in-law!

DS will go through his room when he has a chance to get home. It happened the day after he went back to school after Christmas break. I have to laugh when I think about the installers looking at the horrendous boy-mess I hadn't had a chance to tackle and thinking, hey, looks like somebody already ransacked this room and beat us to it!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 8:35PM
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mahatmacat1

Oh my gosh, I forget to read the conversations section for a week and everything starts happening...

OH my gosh. We are *so* vulnerable when we're doing this. I was spoiled by my hitherto great GC guy (who has since ditched us) -- I felt very safe around him. But now we're back in the great big contractor-dating world and any one of these jokers we are interviewing (the few who show up to keep their appointments, that is) could easily be casing the house...

I'll be holding you all in the light and hoping for your safety and lack of reprisals...please post updates regularly.

You have made some *great* points about getting the names/info on anyone who crosses your threshold.

UGH.

I had a similar moment to what you write just above-back when I was in grad school I came home one day and thought that the house had been broken into...I called the police and an officer entered the house alone...he came back outside with a concerned look on his face and said "um, miss, how does your house *usually* look?" I looked inside and fell apart laughing because it sure looked like someone had ransacked it but I knew it was only me...

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 10:21PM
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maggie2094

Oh nooooo. I am so sorry Pecan. I feel sick. That is such a violation in your home - your haven.

Thank you for posting the info - I will be sure to do that in the future.

Do you have a burglar alarm or would you consider installing one as rococogurl said?

Hugs

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 11:16PM
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sue36

Flyleft,

Your post reminded me of what happened to me. My city apartment is off a courtyard, as it my neighbors. I noticed my neighbor's door was open (to the outside) when I went to the market (this was winter time). When I got back it was still open. A few hours later it was still open. I peeked in and the place was ransacked. Drawers pulled out of bureaus, mattress crooked on the bed. Totally trashed. And the oddest thing - money everywhere. Hundreds of bills everywhere. I skedaddled out of there and called 911. They showed up, guns drawn, and checked it out. No sign of the neighbor. They were putting out a missing persons on him when he showed up. *HE* had ransacked the apartment and all the money was from his waiter job. The cops were convinced he was a drug dealer. He was actually a genius (and quirky) Ph.D. student. It takes all kinds.

When my apartment was robbed I first thought, "wow, I'm really messy". Then I realized I'm not *that* messy.

I know someone who was burglarized by their painters. They took everything, right down to the toothpaste and dirty sheets. They pulled a truck into the garage and filled it up over a weekend they were gone.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 5:48PM
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pecanpie

Sue, that is really funny about your quirky neighbor!

Sorry you got hit, too. That reminded me of the time my mom and I remembered we had to do something, got up from the table and ran out the door. My dad came home a few minutes later to find lunch dishes on the table, and evidence of 'cooking' in the kitchen. Never in their married life had my mother left the house without making sure everything was spotless, and he panicked and called the police.

Needless to say, they both have WAY too much time on their hands...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 5:59PM
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nancy_jean

Pecan.....I'm so sorry!!!
When my son was an infant I was shopping at the supermarket and when I went out to my car, a man mugged me and I thought OMG.....he took my $$$.......I was only 19....now at 45...... I realize he could have took my son...it still haunts me to this day! Nancy

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 5:14AM
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pecanpie

Yes!! There has been a resolution in our case!

I received a check from the carpet company for the entire amount taken ...and took that sucker to the bank.

Mr. Work Release not only flunked his polygraph, he showed up two hours late to his follow-up because he'd been smoking crack and taking (other) drugs to try to blunt his neurological 'responses' during the test. Though his lawyer had told him not to take the polygraph, his parole officer insisted. Bye-bye, Mr. Work Release! They'll be waiting for you in the Big House!

The carpet company told the foreman to reimburse me or they wouldn't use him again. He has a 19 year history with the company, and ponied up.

They ended up having to polygraph my dear, sweet Cabinet Guy because Mr. Work Release insisted that he'd seen him in my son's room. The other workers' responses didn't indicate Cabinet Guy was upstairs, and of course, CG's poly exonerated him, but he was scared to death.

Always nice to have a happy ending!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 7:56PM
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mjsee

When we had the kitchen in our first house remodeled--about 14 years ago, our builder took me aside and informed me that one of his crew had a dissolute youth and had served time for second degree murder(bar fight gone VERY wrong), and if I didn't feel safe with the ex-con in my house, then the builder wouldn't assign him to my job, but that the builder would vouch for the guy. I'd met the guy--and he was one of the sweetest people I've ever met. AND an amazing carpenter.

I let him work at my house. I was 30 and had two kids under 5.

Why? I'm not sure--except that I know people are capable of changing. And if felons can't do honest work--what ARE they going to do?

That said, if my builder hadn't "fessed up"--and I'd found out on my own--it might have been a different story. I don't know.

Just another way of looking at the "criminal record" thing.

OH--and I don't think there's a deductable for stealing and breakage when a company is bonded. It's not like it's YOUR homeonweners that is covering it!

melanie

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 8:32PM
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Neverdone

Good for you, pecan!! How wonderful that they will put that creep back where he belongs!

With all the worker's we've had through our house in the last year, I can't even imagine how violated I would feel. Thankfully, we had our carpet laid this week, so that is the end of workmen for a LONG time!

You are right....we all love a happy ending :)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 8:40PM
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pecanpie

Yes!! There has been a resolution in our case!

I received a check from the carpet company for the entire amount taken ...and took that sucker to the bank.

Mr. Work Release not only flunked his polygraph, he showed up two hours late to his follow-up because he'd been smoking crack and taking (other) drugs to try to blunt his neurological 'responses' during the test. Though his lawyer had told him not to take the polygraph, his parole officer insisted. Bye-bye, Mr. Work Release! They'll be waiting for you in the Big House!

The carpet company told the foreman to reimburse me or they wouldn't use him again. He has a 19 year history with the company, and ponied up.

They ended up having to polygraph my dear, sweet Cabinet Guy because Mr. Work Release insisted that he'd seen him in my son's room. The other workers' responses didn't indicate Cabinet Guy was upstairs, and of course, CG's poly exonerated him, but he was scared to death.

Always nice to have a happy ending!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 8:44PM
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pecanpie

Sorry- don't know how that double post happened? That's bizarre!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 8:58PM
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mjsee

Pecanpie--we've been having issues with multiple posts over on the GW side--I think our new overlords are having technical issues. I had just gotten used to the way IVillage was running things...

melanie

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 9:53AM
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atd_oc

Pecan, Your story sure is a wakeup call for me; I am way too trusting and will now ask the questions you posted as well as try and be home with the workers or at least not let them know how long I will be away.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 11:43AM
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clg7067

Wow! And I recently stashed some money in my sock drawer. I didn't know it was so common.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 1:41PM
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cupofkindness

Pecan:

Thank you for the update! Glad you were reimbursed. And I'm really glad that you shared this entire event with us. It just makes me crazy to think that so many the people we encounter might be crooks. But it's good to be prepared. Then how do I screw up the courage to demand this information about the workers? We need some plumbing work done....

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 4:11PM
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