Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September to Remember

I'm glad the month of September is almost over! While it started wonderfully with guests Bob and Peggy from Ocala, it quickly went downhill over Labor Day weekend when our house was broken into. We were gone for just a couple of hours at dusk to attend the Balloon Glow in Colorado Springs' Memorial Park.

That was enough time for the burglars to steal our two new flat screen TVs, our friend's Kindles and new red suitcase, my laptop computer with all my images and editing software, 2 cameras (my new T2i with the smaller 18-55 lens was with me), Canon 70-300 IS zoom lens and accessories, binoculars and GPS, all of my jewelry including a diamond watch that had belonged to my mother, food (they preferred hamburger and sausage to rib eye steaks), wine and all the toilet paper in the house - even the roll on the spindle! All of our goodies were whisked away in our 2003 silver-grey Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. We had conveniently left all our keys hanging on hooks by the door into the garage.

The glass in our back door had been shot in, every closet, drawer and cabinet had been opened and routed through and bottles of collector wines from my cooler were all over the floor.

It felt strange - and a bit scary - the next morning when we left the house to watch the hot air balloons take off - but our friends came to see the festival and we were not going to disappoint!

The morning was beautiful. After the double launch of balloons, we went for a leisurely breakfast. The rest of the day was spent repairing the back door and changing all the locks. The garage door opener had to be disconnected as the remote was in the car. I started compiling the list of what was missing and tried to locate as many receipts as possible. We called ADT and made an appointment to have a security system installed.

Best Buy has been wonderful. Since we purchased many of the electronics there, they were able to print out a complete report of all of our purchases since I joined the Rewards Program in 2004. So far our homeowners insurance has been helpful - but we don't have a check yet.

Imagine our surprise when a couple of days after the break-in we heard about a bank robbery just south of the Springs in Security. Two men wearing skeleton masks and gloves robbed a bank at gun point and got away in a (wait for it!) ...2003 silver-grey Hyundai Santa-Fe SUV. By the time they read the license plate number, we already knew it was our car. The FBI was now on the look-out for the "Skeleton Bandits" and our famous get-away car.

They were arrested later in the week after abandoning our car on the west side of the Springs. That evening we were called by police detectives to bring a copy of our list of stolen items to an apartment in town - home of the main suspect's girlfriend. I recovered many of our items, including the smaller TV, 2 Kindles, 2 cameras, binoculars, not-so-new anymore red suitcase, about 80% of my jewelry - including my mother's watch and several items I hadn't discovered were missing yet (including some worthless foreign currency and, of all things, a box of wooden toothpicks).

I was a happy camper. At that time, we were hoping to get our car back in a couple of days.We started to relax and make plans for our annual winter migration south.

Despite the turmoil, we had a great visit with our friends. Peggy was affected by the altitude, but still enjoyed a train ride through the Royal Gorge and a trip to Cripple Creek and Victor to see the gold mining operation.

Here I am with Bob and Peggy mugging for the recovered Nikon camera in one of the tires from the HUGE trucks used in the mining operation.

What an amazing view across the open pit. Those little specks are the huge trucks. With the price of gold hovering around $2000 an ounce, they are doing quite well!

Remember that recovered Nikon camera? When I went to check some pictures Bill had taken, I discovered a 90 second video the burglars had taken of themselves at the apartment. Girlfriend (referred to as "video baby" by the guy behind the camera) was relaxing on the sofa - reading Peg's Kindle. A bottle of WalMart Sparkling Lemonade - straight out of our refrigerator - was sitting on the coffee table. The main suspect briefly appeared - wearing the same shirt we had seen in surveillance tapes from one of their other burglaries. The time stamp indicated the video was taken the day after our break-in. Detectives now have that disk and I decided it was not a good idea to post it here.

Since then we have a new fancy-dancy security and fire system monitored by ADT. It even has a temperature monitor so if the temperature in the house goes above 100 or below 45 degrees, we get a call.

One of the things we do each year before we leave for the winter is to have our 4 1/2 year-old, $7000 heating system completely gone over and checked out. This year was no exception. Even though the unit is less than 5 years old - it makes us feel better. $89 later we had a stamp of approval. The house was ready for winter!

We would have never given it a second thought except for the slight cold snap. I felt chilly and asked Bill to turn on the heat. It didn't come on. Long story short and TWO service calls later, they tell us the heater needs a $1500 part - but they don't recommend we fix what they now tell us is a bad system with no warranty, no guarantee. The new heating system (hot water baseboard heat and hot water) is over $6000.

They spent all day Friday installing it and guess what? It didn't work! We were left for the weekend with no heat and lukewarm water. I was fit to be tied!! Yesterday they were here again for the day and now we have heat and hot, hot water - but the heater leaks water, so here we sit yet another day waiting for service - and the unit still needs to be inspected. We WERE hoping to leave tomorrow - but that will probably get pushed ahead - again.

And what about our stolen car you ask? Well, the DA called and we won't get it back until AFTER the trial - which could be two years from now! ...Something about DNA evidence. Insurance?? Well, the car has been recovered, so they will not pay unless there is damage - but we don't know where the car is, what condition it's in or what might be in the car! Good thing we have another!

Have I whined enough??