Break-in victim hit twice within 3 days: 'I was mad'

Break-in victim hit twice within 3 days: 'I was mad'

URBANA — Annoyance. Anger. Violation. Vulnerabilty. Resolve.

Those are the feelings one Urbana burglary victim verbalized after his home was broken in and ransacked last month and then was targeted again 72 hours later.

"He was on my bed. Yuck. Your own personal space. I had a glass of wine for lunch that day, then I just started cleaning and putting everything back together."

The News-Gazette agreed not to reveal the identity of the south Urbana resident — Vic — so as not to make him a target again for other active burglars.


Burglary interrupted?

Vic's story starts about 9 a.m. Jan. 17.

Arriving home from work, he opened the overhead garage door but didn't pull his SUV in.

In the garage, he noticed the door leading to his house was wide open. His initial thought was he left it that way but figured that was unlikely given the snowy, cold conditions.

Seconds later, still standing in his garage, he could see into the bathroom just inside the door. Cabinet doors were open and beach towels were thrown on the bathroom floor.

"I immediately exited the garage and call 9-1-1. They said you cannot go into your house. It was cold outside, and I was standing in my driveway," Vic said.

Minutes later, officers converged. He understood they had to go in first to make sure there was no one inside. They checked the basement, even the crawl space.

But it was more than 20 minutes before they let him in. They had an officer stand with him to ensure he stayed put. He needed to use the bathroom.

"When I walked in, they held my hand and said, 'Don't step here or here.' Throughout the bathroom I saw evidence markers, then I walked into my family room and my laptop was gone. And I was mad."

Confined to the family room while the officers worked, he could see into the kitchen and dining room.

Drawers and cupboards were wide open. His checkbook, which had been in a kitchen drawer, was out. His pristine white cabinets were covered with black fingerprint powder.

In the dining room, the burglar had rifled the antique china cabinet, which contained family heirlooms.

"Everything had been opened." There was fingerprint powder on the dark cabinet wood as well.

The normally calm, positive Vic was building up a head of steam.


Annoyance to anger

"I felt violated, vulnerable and all those things that go through your head when your property is trashed. I was angry," he said.

From the spare bedroom, an officer called out to him that his laptop was on the bed with the cords wrapped around it. "That made me feel better, but they still wouldn't let me go in the bedroom."

"Finally, after they had all the fingerprinting done and evidence markers all over, I went in the bedroom. I just kinda freaked out."

"He had not only opened all my drawers and thrown everything all over the floor and bed, he had emptied out my closet. He took my hung-up clothes and threw them all over the place. You knew he was walking on them," he said, disgusted at the image.

As the officers worked, they eventually let Vic roam throughout his house.

He found the burglar had dumped jewelry boxes in both bedrooms. On the kitchen counter near where his checkbook had been was where he kept his cellphone charger.

"The little ... stuck that in his pocket, too," said Vic.

In the basement, the intruder had moved, but not gotten in, a cube-shaped safe.

Going back out to the garage, he found drawers to his tool bench open, and his 19-year-old car had been entered.

"Sure enough, he had ransacked it, opened the console, drug out a bunch of stuff. The police have some of that stuff for fingerprints," he said.


Not quite the coup de gras

"That's when I noted the key was gone, and I was really mad," he said.

Vic said he always left just the car key in the ignition of his second vehicle for his own convenience. He doesn't do that anymore.

He theorizes that the burglar planned to load up his car and leave with it when he heard Vic's garage door go up.

"I'm pretty sure I scared him off because he already had my car key in his pocket. He was going to take the laptop because it was on my bed, (in the room) which is next to the driveway."

Besides the mess, the burglar's only take was Vic's car key and cellphone charger.

He estimated officers were in his house about 70 minutes collecting evidence. After their departure, Vic began his spring cleaning about two months early.

"I had to spend the whole day doing laundry, putting everything back together. All that fingerprint dust that is supposed to just wipe off, it didn't just wipe off. It took Formula 409 and a scrub pad to get it off the laminate," he said.

"The antique china cabinet, which is dark wood, I could see dust on that. I had to keep wiping it down.

I even went to the laundromat with my comforter and blankets. I knew that jerk had touched my bedding." Officers didn't have to tell Vic that with his car key missing, the burglar was likely to return.

"The cops told me about other break-ins and car thefts," he said.

To re-key the ignition, he learned later, would cost $1,600. And with a $1,000 deductible on his homeowner's insurance, Vic figured that wasn't worth the investment for an 18-year-old car. Instead, he disabled the starter.

Take that, burglar.



His house in order, Vic went about his routine, hyper-aware that the intruder might return.

"On Saturday morning, Jan. 20, at 9:15 a.m., I came home from work, and I was walking in the garage, and I heard this loud, loud thump and bang sound. For a split second I thought something had fallen. Then the next second I knew exactly what was going on," Vic said.

"I was (peeved) at this point. I ran in, screaming and hollering, yelling and calling him all kinds of names, telling him not to come back. I hear him running off my wooden deck, slipping in leaves and ice and climbing over the fence to the west."

"That noise I heard was him breaking the locking mechanism on the patio door. That's when I started screaming and hollering. Had I walked on to my deck and looked to the west, I would have seen that jerk climbing my fence," he said.

The burglar had not gotten in, thanks to Vic's serendipitous timing.

He said police followed the would-be burglar's prints through the snow, but the track ended at the street. They felt confident telling Vic that the footwear impressions were the same as they had seen around his house three days earlier.


Refusal to be victim

Vic, 68, described his neighborhood as a good mix of folks, living in mostly owner-occupied modest bungalows. He calls his a "fun little house."

His next-door neighbor's was broken into and ransacked — also twice — last August. Still, he refuses to lose sleep or look over his shoulder.

"I'm an old man. I have lived in this house 28 or 29 years. This is the first time this has ever happened to me."

"I cannot let the actions of other people control my life. I have no control over other people's actions. I have control over how I react to them."

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Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes. wrote on February 19, 2018 at 8:02 am

and yet the standard plea for all of these cases are.. burglary. Not residential burglary, but burglary for which you can get probation.  It does not matter how many burglaries you are reponsible for over what period of time, you will get one charge, and that will be probation.  The SJW will tell you that it is a property crime that does not matter.  Yet victims will tell you that they will never get over the loss of family herlooms, or the fact that the suspect was going through their personal clothes.


The next time one of these "distributing the wealth" gets convicted.  Notice what they plead for. Until the current SA  it will be burglary  or theft  but never residential burglary.


People should take that into consideration in two years.  Are you happy with probation or do you want jail sentences.


It is your choice to make in 2020;

Homeboy wrote on February 19, 2018 at 9:02 am

Vic thinks he is mad now wait till they catch the perp and the S. A. Does the usual catch and release. We really need a S. A. Who is tough on crime.