I ran up the concrete steps to 234 Endlich Avenue with an urgency I can not remember having since, two at a time and I leapt past the two wooden steps at the front of our porch.  My wife was on the porch with our 2 year old daughter, crying and shaking.  My dad was to her right and Debbie, our neighbor, to her left.  A police officer was in front of her, scribbling notes down on his opened leather notepad.
February 2005.
It started as a normal Saturday morning.  I headed off to work in the morning and a four month pregnant Alicia along with Hannah had some running around to do that morning and were up and getting ready.  I didn’t answer the phone at work when Alicia called.  One of my coworkers did and rushed to get me on the phone.  He had heard the hysterics Alicia was in. 
Him. “Something’s wrong with Alicia.  She’s crying and really upset.  She’s on the phone now.”
Me. “Oh man.”
After four short months, Alicia was prone to mood swings that went up and down like the pistons on the Titanic.  I grabbed the phone and took her off hold.
Alicia. “We were robbed!”
Me. “What?!”
She sobbed and heaved through a brief explanation of how, when she returned to the house with Hannah after running out, she noticed above our television an empty hole where our DVD player had occupied as recently as that morning.  Upon further investigation Alicia saw the broken back door.  She had grabbed Hannah and ran from the house.  She was calling from our neighbor’s house and ended the phone call with, “Get home!”.
By the time I skidded up to our house, my disbelief had reached a crescendo and trying to rationalize it was doing me no good.  Alicia, my dad, our neighbor, Hannah, and one of Mt Penn’s finest were all on our front porch.  I grabbed Alicia and Hannah in my arms.  Alicia’s body was jumping in between her tears.  The police officer with the notepad explained what had happened and what was currently going on with the investigation.
The officer, through a droll almost uncaring tone, explained it to me this way.  “Some time after your wife left and before she got home, someone got in through your back door and stole some things from your house.”
If I could pinpoint the exact moment when my disbelief morphed into blind rage, it would have been at this exact moment.  While I never subscribed to NYPD Blue or CSI as canon on police procedure, Joe Friday’s rundown of my home’s burglary made Scooby Doo look like an episode of C.O.P.S. I didn’t know if I was angry at the robbery or the civil servant with a badge my taxes were paying for.  Then he told me, “You weren’t robbed, you were burglarized” in a Dr. Phil sort of condescending tone. I think I know where my anger was headed.
I walked inside the house and made my way past the empty space where the DVD player was, crossed through the dining room and into the kitchen.  It was in the kitchen, or more precisely, the back door leading out of the kitchen and into the back sunroom where the bulk of the damage had taken place.  There was a police office in the sunroom powder coating the back door and anything he could wipe with his brush coating every square inch of the kitchen and sunroom with fingerprint powder.
An enormous amount of attention was being paid in the sunroom and kitchen because those who needed to ransack my home violently entered through the back doors.  I saw the sunroom door, connected to the deck, ripped off its hinges.  My anger grew.  I saw the kitchen door hanging from a jamb that was wrenched from the wall.  The bottom glass pane broken as the deviants’ first attempt was to unlock the door but the floor bolt prevented an easy entry.  My anger grew more.
I turned my back on Jackson Pollack with a badge as he emptied the remaining powder from his forensic kit in my kitchen.  I walked into the living room and saw the missing DVD player.  This was the first time I had taken my hands off of my hips while I was in the house and felt them clench into fists.  I walked up the stairway to the second floor and in each room there was havoc.  Dresser drawers emptied on our floors.  Closet doors left opened.  Jewelry boxes once filled with insignificant costume jewelry, worth less than a dinner for two at Wendy’s, were empty.  A jewelry box that once had a newborn’s baptismal rosary was empty.  A necklace passed down from grandmother to granddaughter and worth more than a price tag to the owner than those who stole it, was gone.  By the time I was at the end of my individual evaluation of the crime scene, my nerve endings were on fire and I was unable to relieve the tension my fingers were locked in.
That Saturday morning in February, we had stolen items with receipts attached to them.  Items our insurance would cover.  But that Saturday morning in February, items whose values were appraised in nostalgia, memory, and love were stolen too.  My family’s perception of safety was stolen.  The tranquility of 234 Endlich Avenue had been stolen.  What had been our idea of a perfect house was now stolen. 
While at the time I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I was going to get what was stolen from me back.

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