Triumph Over Tragedy: Getting Over Our House Robbery

Four years ago, thieves broke into our house and took everything they wanted. Our family was in Trinidad visiting some of my mother’s cousins for the first time. What was supposed to be a festive Christmas celebration immediately became a nightmare of a holiday for my wife and I.

We took the first flight out and arrived at our house late in the evening. The thieves ransacked our house from top to bottom. The bed mattresses were flipped, the clothes in our closet were spilled everywhere on the floor, the boxes in our garage were opened, and our car was gone. We had been away for a couple months traveling through South America and it was apparent that the thieves knew we were away. They meticulously went through our things. They took our IDs, credit cards, cash, keys, hard drives, jewelry, and anything else they wanted.

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We were devastated.

Everything we’d worked so hard for had suddenly been taken away from us, plus we had to clean up the mess. What made matters worse was that these thieves started using our IDs to open up new credit cards at Target. The female thief was posing as my wife to create credit cards that we wouldn’t be able to track. So not only was I dealing with the police about our house robbery, settling our fraudulent charges on our credit cards, and repairing and securing our house, but I also had to deal with this lady engaging in ID theft.

This period of time in our lives was incredibly tough for us. We experienced many moments of despair and absolute frustration.

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The side door that the thieves kicked through

 

Things eventually got better though. 

Fortunately, because there was video surveillance of the female thief using my wife’s ID at Target, we were able to get a clear photo of her face. With this photo and the semi-fake information she entered on the credit card application, I worked with the police to decipher her identity. She was a thief with a previous criminal history. An arrest warrant eventually was issued for her ID theft. A few months later, she was sentenced to two years in county jail.

Besides catching one of the thieves, there were other positive things that happened to us. Insurance covered most of our losses and repairs. The police found our car two weeks after the robbery and we were able to get it back to original condition with the costs covered by our insurance. Our credit cards didn’t charge us for any of the fraudulent charges, which were a few thousand dollars in total. And the biggest relief was that my wife’s diamond ring that I gave her for our engagement wasn’t stolen, even though it was sitting in a box in one our closets.

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One week after the robbery, we tried to keep a sense of normalcy for our girls during the holidays.

 

The robbery shook us to the core.

We were initially shocked, fearful, and angry. But through the process of picking up the pieces of our home – and our lives – we learned to stay positive through adversity. By having things taken away from us, we learned to live a simpler life with less attachment to things. We stopped being comfortable and started pursuing experiences that took us out of our comfort zone. In the four years since the robbery, I’ve changed jobs (multiple times) from very comfortable jobs to a more challenging role on a different career path that better aligns with my interests and skills. We’ve taken our kids out of school to travel the world for a total of 15 months in 2014 and 2015. We pursued things that matter most to us, including time with extended family in China and Hawaii, healthier lifestyles, and more balance between our work and leisure. I stopped procrastinating and did things that helped me grow, including starting and writing my blog, training for and completing a full marathon, and traveling to Africa for the first time.

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Although the robbery was devastating to us at the time, the robbery has become a blessing in disguise. It helped us reprioritize our lives, figure out what really matters, and pursue the things that we were most passionate about. The robbery is an important part of our family’s story that has shaped our perspective and how we live our lives. The adversity we faced made us stronger and closer, and sparked things in our life that we may not have had as much courage to do before.

And for that, I am grateful.

 

*The holiday season is peak time for house burglaries. Stay vigilant and do your best to protect your house and belongings with some simple steps: 10 Ways to Protect Your House From Burglary While Traveling

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.

  • Wow. That is devastating. Good thing your insurance covered the material stuff. What a nightmare to deal with all the ID theft issues!

    • Thanks, Robyn. Yes, thankfully we had both home and car insurance. Still a headache to deal with though, but I’m glad we we’re covered for some of our losses.