Volume 41, Issue 7 - July 2006


Broken Rings
by Deb Levy

You know the ring I mean. It’s the ring that makes you shake right away because you just know the person on the other end of the line isn’t calling with good news. In fact, you know just by the ring that it’s bad news and you want to get to the phone quickly to find out just how bad.

I started doing the ring shake as soon as I was handed the phone at 2:57 a.m. on June 10. “This is the alarm company. We have activity at 385 Garrisonville. Do you want us to send the police?” 

“Yes,” I said, immediately taking a mental inventory … Friday night … middle of the night … no rain … no bad weather … must be something going on. 

Now I know you other business owners will understand me when I say that you get to know your alarm system. You get to know its quirks, or when weather or other conditions will set it off. You know when it’s being fickle. And you get to know when it’s the real thing.

So, hoping against intuition, I threw on some clothes and raced the 1.2 miles to the office, getting there about a minute before the sheriff. (We have a great sheriff’s department in Stafford. In fact, this was the only county in the Washington, D.C., area that wasn’t hit by the sniper attacks a few years ago, due mainly to the aggressive stance the sheriff here took, but I digress.) 

Our offices had been hit—burglars had broken into my actual office, in fact. They had thrown a little (but heavy) frog flowerpot we had outside through the window, breaking the glass, spreading dirt and plants throughout the office—and decapitating said frog. But they hadn’t come in because the alarm had gone off. 

In fact, they had gone on to try and break into another building in the complex. 

“If they are still around they’ll try and get in once the alarm stops,” said the deputy. He was right because about three minutes after the alarm stopped, there they were walking back toward the building. A chase ensued. Guns drawn, K-9 unit hunting, creating a whole surreal NYPD Blue kinda scene—except that it was real and they got away. 

You know, I didn’t really get an adrenaline rush, but just felt sad that this had happened and that, despite all of our precautions, someone had broken in and tried to enter. As I cleaned up the broken glass, dirt and frog parts lying around, I began to contemplate my immediate problem. It was nearly 3:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I couldn’t set the alarm with the window broken and I couldn’t leave until the office was secure. It was the middle of the night, and I needed a glass guy. After spending a moment pondering the irony of the situation, I pulled out the Yellow Pages and started to dial.

Next month: Getting on board-up.

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