Stolen Goods

Burglary is a common occurrence at our rural, Northwest Arkansas home. How the thief gets in, steals what he wants, and gets out without leaving a single clue indicates a level of true professionalism. The doors haven’t been jimmied, the windows remain closed and locked, and yet numerous items continue to disappear. In fact, this thief is so clever and subtle; it’s darned near impossible to prove the missing articles ever existed.

Notifying the authorities is an exercise in futility and a waste of cell phone minutes. We’ve had the cops out a couple times. The county dispatches a glum-looking deputy who documents our complaint, scratches a few undecipherable notes on a yellow pad, and promises to patrol the area on a semi-bi-monthly basis—if and when—staffing and funds become available.

The only known witness to these crimes is our dog, Buster. I have interrogated him on numerous occasions and suspect he may be in collusion with the criminal. How he can look me square in the eye and refer to himself as a “guard dog” confirms his total lack of respect for the job title.

The tom-thievery in our neighborhood began several years ago, about the time my father started displaying early signs of dementia. Dad, who lived in the next house up the road, noticed a pair of rubber boots was missing. Three minutes and one phone call later, my wife, Connie, and I were enlisted to join the search-and-rescue squad. We spent hours combing hazardous terrain, fighting brutal cobwebs and a relentless army of dust bunnies. The boots could not be found.

My sweet and naive mother, who always thought the best of everyone, insisted the boots were merely misplaced and would eventually turn up. Dad was livid. “Hell no! They were stolen.” The thief had no need for guns, tools, electronics, or precious gems that might weigh him down. No! He had been coveting a used pair of size nine rubber boots for some time, lying in wait for the right moment to sweep down and snatch them for his own. Dad could just picture some guy stomping down the driveway, pant legs tucked in the boots, grinning like he’d just won the lottery.

Two months later, Mom decided to shampoo the carpet and asked me to help move the couch. It was then we discovered that we were dealing with the most vile and hideous type of criminal. One who would not only invade your home to steal rubber boots, but who would also break in just to bring them back.

Despite keeping a vigilant eye on personal belongings, items continued to disappear. Some would eventually return with little or no damage while others—primarily foodstuff, such as pies, cakes, and candy—never made it back. It was impossible to predict when the thief would strike, but we determined the best way to protect a pie was to cut it into sections and wrap our stomachs around the individual slices.

After Mom and Dad passed away, Connie and I bought their house, remodeled it, and rented it to a young couple. The thief, who had long coveted Phillips screwdrivers, tubs of margarine, and partial rolls of crochet thread, no longer took an interest in items at this address.

Instead, he chose to move his operation to the nearest house in the vicinity—ours.

Those who study such things will tell you that intelligent criminals target specific demographics. Much like predators in the animal kingdom, they seek out easy marks who are unable to protect themselves. This list includes the very young; those with physical or mental deficiencies, and of course (gulp) the elderly.

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  1. Huh. I’d always blamed the trash fairies for stealing my things. Russell, this was a delightful story!

  2. Hah! They’ve been to our house, too! Great story!

  3. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

    March 19, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Dear Russell,

    I’d laugh but I’m pretty certain the same burglar makes his way from your neck of the woods to ours. Tragic that someone can’t do something about this problem. I’d install hidden cameras but I’m sure the crook would take those, too.



  4. It started with socks in our house. I thought it was a defective dryer. Two would go in, but only one would come out. Now all sorts of things that should be sets are missing pieces. And he’s clever. He steals things as we use them, too. Eye glasses that we take off just to rub our noses, pens we put down to take a sip of water, remote controls in the middle of TV shows. You’ve touched on a big problem, Russell. When you find the solution, write to me. If my computer isn’t missing, I’d love to read about it.

  5. You guys are lucky. So far he hasn’t gotten your toliet paper–but believe me, it happens!

  6. I think it is clearly Buster behind the whole thing, probably in collusion with Connie. It could not be a young man such as yourself! I’d have Buster tailed (so to speak.)

  7. I have the opposite problem, Russell. Someone with terrible taste in clothes sneaks into my closet periodically and puts garments there. How can this be? But if you realize that you’re missing the lime green leisure suit you wore on your honeymoon with Connie, contact me. I’ll look for it over here.

    P.S. I love the shoe store for amputees!

  8. Oh, thank goodness, Russell. It’s a THIEF that’s been taking all the things that before your article, I thought I’d simply misplaced. Thanks so much for making my day!

  9. Hahaha! Hey, teenagers are victims too. My teenagers can’t find something in their room, the first words out of their mouth is “someone stole it!!” Wow, really? Maybe the item is under the five piles of clothes on the floor, or under their bed hiding between dirty dishes and empty soda cans? LOL….. Great story Russell.

  10. Thank you so much for a great story. It made my day!

  11. I really enjoyed this well-written humor piece. To think this crook would have the gall to break into a house a second time to return the stolen boots. What an evil genius. I shouldn’t draw attention to the fact that I wear size nine boots and can’t recall how I acquired mine.

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