Austin Stories B.C. – Breaking and Entering

My attempt to share stories for each letter of the alphabet featuring our life in Austin B.C. (Before Children) 1975-1985. The 70s were a long time ago. 26 stories might be a stretch for my brain, but I have made it to E – as has the Sepia Saturday prompt photo for this week.

A man, standing alone. Hand in his coat pocket. Looking to the side. At what? For whom? Not a nice guy according to the notes below the photo. “E” for Executed.

The man in the prompt photo reminds me of a man I saw standing alone in front of the open door of our apartment. He wasn’t a nice guy either. I have no photos to confirm his presence there, only the dim image stored in my memory.

One evening before sunset, my husband and I returned home from an errand and pulled into a parking space right in front of our apartment. To our great surprise, a young man was standing in the threshold with the door open behind him. Just standing there. Not moving. Not holding anything. Just casually standing and looking out into the parking lot.

We immediately backed out and went to a pay phone at a nearby convenience store to call the police, then drove back to the apartment complex to wait. By the time we got there, no one was standing in the doorway and the door was closed.

We reported what we had seen to the police and they entered the apartment. No one there. Some things out of place. Our television gone.

I told the police who did it. I recognized the guy. He lived in the complex behind us in an apartment on the second floor. I had the perfect view of his apartment from the window over our kitchen sink and the sliding glass door to the patio. I had seen him several times on the landing outside his door, smoking or just standing out there. I was sure it was him.

Unfortunately, the police said there was nothing they could do. We had seen him in front of the open door. On the threshold. His body was not inside the apartment when we saw him.

The Texas Penal Code defines entry as the “intrusion of the entire body”.

Something had nudged us to mark the more expensive items we owned, including the TV, with a driver license number in case they were stolen. If our TV turned up, the police would return it to us.

The days and weeks after the burglary brought a new kind of emotion that I had not experienced before. Violation. I felt violated. When I opened a drawer, I was angry and gutted to know that he had gone through our things. My things. Personal things. And he had taken from us.

As it turns out, we got our television back. A couple of weeks later, the police arrested a “fence” who lived in our apartment complex. Of course he did! They found a lot of stolen televisions and stereo equipment in his apartment. But this did not lead to the arrest of our burglar.

One day sometime later, a commotion caught my eye through one of the windows. Police officers were at the thief’s door. I watched as police led the thief down the stairs. He was busted for drugs, not burglary. It felt like some vindication.

This is the third memory I have written about living in this apartment. Bats. A clown. A thief. I have at least one more to share. The newspaper ad wasn’t lying.

I’m finding that we just don’t have a lot of photos from this time in our life. These days, we pull out our cell phones to document almost everything. And so I offer this photo from the 1948 Italian film Bicycle Thieves.

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

Please visit other Sepia Saturday bloggers here: Sepia Saturday


9 thoughts on “Austin Stories B.C. – Breaking and Entering

  1. This was a very personal spin on our theme to share, and I immediately recognized the emotion. Theft, especially burglary, does leave a person with an unfamiliar feeling of indignation that ordinary life doesn’t prepare us for. Usually it’s the mysterious unknown thief that causes the anxiety, but for you to have recognized the person must have been very scary. Many years ago we had a burglar break into our house and he left behind a pair of plumbing pliers that were used to break the lock. Of course packrat that I am, I saved it. A few weeks ago I found it again in my box of forgotten tools and just touching it sparked a memory of that feeling of violation. I’ve thrown them away. Finally.

    • It was a new and surprisingly intense feeling. And you are right, our ordinary days don’t prepare us for it.

      I started down the path of telling these personal stories and so here I am. We may all be very tired of them by the time I work through the alphabet. Not sure whether I’ll get 26 stories out of this time period or not.

  2. Opps, I forgot to mention that your Sepia Saturday link is broken and loops back to Sepia Saturday instead of your new post. But everyone will probably figure it out.

  3. What a tale! I had break-ins at a couple of apartments where I lived in my 20s. Fortunately, I was just starting out in my adult life so did not have much in the way of fence-able possessions. Sadly, I lost some silver dollars my grandfather had given me as a child — but I was relieved that I had not been hope when the burglars broke in.

  4. No one ever broke into the home where I grew up, nor my apt., nor any of the places I’ve lived with my husband. But I had my purse stolen once and went through the same uncomfortable feelings you did of invasion of personal things. Lots of private information in that purse along with pictures and all sorts of other things. I felt weird knowing that some stranger had been looking at those things. The police officer to whom I reported the theft said to take heart. He said the thief most likely took the cash out of my wallet and tossed the purse and the rest away. I hoped that was so, but couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling for a long time. If the thief did throw the rest away, I still wondered who else might have found my purse and pawed through it? Ugh. Meanwhile, of course, I had to go through cancelling all my credit cards & getting new ones, as well as getting a replacement drivers license, plus for safety’s sake, we replaced all the locks on our house since my keys had been in my purse. Fortunately I was shopping in a town an hour’s drive away so we hoped the thief would never be in our neighborhood looking for our address, and although they had my car keys, they probably had no idea what kind of car I drove or its license number, so whew for that. Took me a long time to get over feeling so violated and uncomfortable about it all.

  5. It’s an awful feeling. And I can imagine having that personal information from your wallet adding a great deal of worry.

  6. Don’t you just hate hearing “there’s nothing we can do”?! But what I’ve learned in my years of watching detective shows in which there seems to be nothing the police can do, the prime suspect will eventually make a mistake – just like your neighbor. When I was about 12, I came home from school to find our house had been burgled. Daddy was at work. Momma, a teacher, hadn’t gotten home yet. I saw dresser drawers open with STUFF strewn all over my parents’ bedroom floor but didn’t understand what I was seeing. Those were the days BEFORE people started locking the doors. We started locking from then on.

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