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The College Student Vs. The Rip Off


When you venture out of town either on vacation during spring or summer break, or you opt for a more enjoying vacation of some sort you often prepare for the worst.  What if it rains?  What if its too cold?  What if you didn’t bring enough clothes?  Too many clothes?  What about gas, is there enough money to cover the expenses and the incidentals that arise?  Is there a safety net of some kind.  You check off everything on your list of things to bring and events to prepare for.  Now you think you’re ready to head out right?  TOTALLY WRONG!  Have you prepared for the ABSOLUTE WORST, or have you forgotten one vitally important factor whenever you leave home, most especially if you plan to be gone for an extended period of time? 


I left my home for nearly a month.  I had packed my bags, I had cleaned my home.  Everything was in order and then I made my way down to Texas from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  It was going to be an adventure and at my destination I would be finally reunited with my fiancé who has spent the past nine months or so in Afghanistan.  I was beyond excited.  I got there, met him literally off the plane and spent the next week on cloud nine.  Then I get a call.  ‘Julie, your house has been broken into.’  Certainly not a call I wanted to get a week into my vacation.  Sadly being so far away from home and completely helpless in doing anything to find out more about the situation and being powerless to do anything about it was overwhelming.  I both wanted to forget it and enjoy my vacation with my fiancé and at the same time wanted to rush home to see what this idiot had taken.  I get a call from the deputy on duty who informed me that most of my valuables were safe, fingerprints were taken, and the perpetrator got in from the back door…used a crowbar.  My drawers were rifled through…including my panty drawer…I mean come on!!  Really?  Are you freaking kidding me? 

I go through my head what I could have done to prevent this from happening.  Having your home broken into is a serious invasion of privacy, especially considering the fact that I have two small children and had I been home with them during this episode?  Yeeeaaaah…wouldn’t end well that’s for sure.  But I wasn’t home, and the children were with their father.  But I started thinking to myself what more I could have done to keep this from happening.  I began to blame myself for someone else’s audacity.  Security cameras?  I could have pulled it off but honestly I’m far too broke to afford high tech equipment required for what I’m thinking of.  Nanny cams probably wouldn’t have lasted the full extent of when I was gone.  I did install a floodlight on the front porch but neglected the back porch.  The idea of getting a dragon, installing a moat, sharks with lasers on their head, and a drawbridge came to mind but realistically speaking the lasers that I want cost probably in the thousands and would also be against the Geneva Convention.   Bars on the window are a good idea, but also expensive. 

So how do you prevent a break-in?  How do you keep your privacy private while you’re gone?  Well boys and girls the best thing that I have found that prohibits bad guys from rummaging through your underwear drawer is to NOT tell a soul that you are leaving, where you’re going, or when you’ll be back.  If someone does catch wind that you’re leaving…be wary of those who are suddenly interested in talking to you.  It’s also a good idea to let surrounding neighbors that you trust know that you are leaving so they can keep an eye out.  Unfortunately now a days people are more apt to keep to themselves because they don’t want to get involved.  In the off chance that you have a neighbor who’d be willing to open their mouths and give a shout out is always a good thing.  Apathy is pretty prevalent, at least around where I live so although you may trust your neighbors, there is a chance that nothing will be done in your defense. 

It also doesn't hurt to have someone housesit either.  I ended up having my dad come stay at my house until I got back and found that he got so bored he fixed my windows.  BONUS!  No one even bothered the house while he was there, no suspicious activity whatsoever.  My daughter though was a bit freaked out after the fact.  Try explaining to a five year old little girl that she’s safe in her own home after that.  She was terrified that this blankity blank stole her toys! 

Well a stroke of good luck (I guess you could call it that) came when I got home to find that the only thing taken was my prescription pain medication for my  bum knees and back.  I took the bigger bottles with me when I went but left the rest thinking that it would be safely locked up.  Yeah, not so much.  They made off with enough medication to keep them high as a kite for a while depending upon their tolerance…(in the back of my mind I’m kinda hoping they choke on it).  Luckily I brought some of my medication with me and had some spare because not long after I got home, I got into a bit of a motorcycle accident.  I have the best of luck…I know. 

So another tip is to NEVER tell anyone or inform anyone that you are on any prescription medication.  For anything.  You never know who is a prescription med junkie.  If someone does know, TAKE EVERYTHING WITH YOU IF YOU CAN.  Or you could do it all old school and bury your valuables, meds included, in a mason jar in your back yard. 

Social networking is fun, great, exciting, and a glorious way to keep in touch with people.  Its absolutely stupendous…and also the devil.  You know how Facebook has the option to have you show exactly where you are in the world when you check in somewhere?  Well unless you take precautions, that could be used against you as in potential threats can see ‘Ha!  Such and such went home for spring break and they’re going to be gone for a while.  I wonder what mischief and mayhem I can cause while they are away…wonder if they took their laptop or their ipad/ipod/isocket with them!’  So…bad plan. 

Unless you want to Macaulay Culkin your house or dorm room while you’re away-or if you want to have electrified barbed wire protecting your stuff while you’re away-your safest bet is to keep mum about your comings and goings and be responsible about your stuff.  Then again….those sharks with lasers would be pretty intimidating to potential burglars. 


ShadaeDillard's picture

I don't think you can prevent

I don't think you can prevent break in 100 percent, but for us, we've lived in the same area 16 years. We are well knowned in our area, and we've had people take things like bikes and kid items from out yards, but thank God never inside our home, well I take that back, my sister had her boyfriend over, and he went through my dads drawers and stuff, other than that we have been really blessed. 


I would say guard dogs, my dogs love hunting people down, alarm systems, make sure eveything is locked. For us, since my room is near the back down, I always put a chair and other things in my backdoor, I have a tree at my bedroom windown and a ac on the other side, so noone can get through, all the other windowns are higher and smaller, Also if you have  glass door or just a door, get a screen door as well, it will be loud noise when someone is trying to pry it off the door, it will make a lot of noise if they take it off the door since they have to use drills and other things. Put new locks, add more locks, we have the locks on our doors strange ways, i won't say but i've see pepeple put a lock where the only way to get in was with a key the the other side they would just flip every other lock-hope that makese sense. 


Good Luck

Mercer Smith's picture

I would normally say "Oh, I

I would normally say "Oh, I totally understand," or "Here's my advice about this subject," but I honestly don't have any advice about this. That's crazy! I've heard lots of horror stories about social networking, and how it can help burglars to know when your house is free and unoccupied and free to be stolen from, but I've never actually heard it from someone first hand. How bizarre! Also, I've never heard of people taking all of their important personal belongings and burying them in the back yard in a mason jar, but apparently that is something that happens. Ha. I've never had any of my apartments broken into or burgaled (knock on wod, ha.), but I can only imagine how awful it must feel. I had a few customers come into the Apple store when I worked there and talk to me about having all of their belongings stolen. They said that they were actually more upset about having their underwear drawer rifled through than anything else. It's weird to think about a complete stranger touching and fucking with all of your stuff while you are gone. You don't know what they did with it, or what their purposes were. it's especially weird because the only thing that they stole from you was your back/hip medicine. It's not like they were looking for jewelry or expensive computer items, just the meds. If that's the case, I am very surprised that they dug through all your clothing drawers to find it. I guess I never thought that people would actually break into houses to steal just medicine as opposed to something more expensive or fancy.

Jay Pineda's picture

Going on vacations is really

Going on vacations is really a good idea to break free from school. You know, after a whole year of stressing yourself of studies, you really need to have a break, relax and enjoy yourself. And in your case, going in vacation means being with your loved ones again! And I believe being reunited with your loved ones will make a vacation very memorable. Vacations can be fun, relaxing and memorable. But if you are too excited and you have neglected your home before leaving, then it would probably ruin your vacation, just like what happened to you. Well maybe it is not always neglecting the security of your home, because even banks get robbed. lol. But of course there are still some security precautions which we could do to at least prevent or avoid thief to enter your home. I never expected that this problem will also be common among college students. Personally, what I do whenever we leave home is that we make sure that all doors are locekd and at least one light is switched on inside the house, so that the house is not too dark. Also, all valuables should be kept, just so in case the invader successfully come in, all your valuables are not displayed.

Amandarae1's picture

It seems to me like a good

It seems to me like a good thing to do would be not to tell everyone that you're leaving, like you said.  Maybe letting someone in on it though might be a good idea. What about a house sitter?  Have a good friend or family member you trust to help out while you are gone.  Someone to show up and get the mail and water the plants, or have someone stay at your place while your away.

My sister-in-law goes out of town quite regularly, sometimes it is even to come and see me! But no matter where she is going she always has someone stay at her place.  For the last couple of years it has alway been the same friend.  It is someone she works with and trusts and it is easy for both of them because they have a system worked out.  Having someone there regularly will help keep robbers away.  Houses and apartments are magnets for crimes when they sit silent and empty.  Just a car coming in and out of the driveway everyday can be a deterrent.