Jun7

What a Home Invasion Feels Like, From a Single Mother

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by Greg Jensen on June 7, 2011

What’s it like, being a single mom and having your home invaded?

We asked a few single moms who have lived through a home invasion or burglary if they would be willing to share their experience with VAW Prevention readers. One mom who decided to share her story was Laura Heitkamp. Here’s an inside look at a true story of what happens when a single mom’s home is invaded.

Enter Laura.

The first time we were broken into was at night. We slept through it.

When we woke up the next morning, our house was freezing and the backdoor was wide open. At first, it looked like nothing was missing, but our Xbox and TV had obviously been moved; we figured that whoever had been in our house got scared and left before he could take them.

As I got ready to leave for work, though, I discovered that my purse was missing. I called the police, who arrived in minutes. The responding officer was interested and helpful until I told him what was missing. He scoffed that “only a really stupid person would steal something dumb like that,” and said that I probably just misplaced it. Shocked, I filed my report and spent the rest of the day closing my bank accounts, getting a new driver’s license and social security card, and crying.

The next day I came home to find the back door, which had been closed and locked, pried open. I ran to my nightstand and cleared the house with my gun before calling the police. When the officers arrived half an hour later, they basically just told me to lock the doors, which I didn’t find helpful; after all, I had locked the doors. What else could I do?

Break-ins like this occurred for the next two years. I came home one day and found my checkbook, which had been on my desk, lying abandoned in the yard.When we took better measures to protect our home (motion lights in front of our home and in the backyard, locked windows, dead-bolted doors, garage door chained shut from the inside, glass sliding door secured with a dowel in the gap), the attacker began harassing my car.

The gas was siphoned out of it twice, and the oil drained once. Often it was filled with trash and empty cans. The door handle was broken so it would no longer lock, resulting in the theft of my checkbook and GPS system.

Then, as suddenly as they started, the break-ins stopped. I still don’t know who was terrorizing me or why. I continue to feel vulnerable, despite the current peace.

I get shivers thinking that the intruder who broke into my home that first time could have stood at the end of my bed and watched me sleep. We have bells on our back fence; every time the wind blows hard my heart pounds.

All I can do is take every measure possible to protect my home and children. We cannot afford an alarm system, but if we had one, it would bring a lot of peace of mind.