Last Saturday I pulled out the leaf blower for the first of several fall sessions of blowing leaves out of the yard. I went around the side of the house to begin clearing leaves out of our secondary driveway. As the motor roared to life I looked around and something didn’t seem right. It only took a few seconds before the puzzlement lifted.
OMG…our portable basketball goal had been stolen!
You know the five stages of grief people experience when dealing with a relationship loss? I went through all those in about 30 seconds (except I skipped bargaining). Honestly though, after reaching acceptance, I reverted to anger for the rest of the day. That’ll make sense when you find out the details.
So, step 1…inform the wife, so she can experience the five stages herself.
Step 2…get on Realtor.com and start looking for another house. OK, that’s not exactly what we did but wouldn’t you feel that way? Talk about feeling violated and insecure and vulnerable. It’s a sickening feeling knowing people have been traipsing around your house.
We decided to call local law enforcement and a sheriff arrived within 10 minutes. We knew the likelihood of getting our goal back was close to zero but felt it was our responsibility to report the theft. I want to live in a secure neighborhood and the more they know about the area the better.
He asked the basic questions you would expect for a police report. When was it stolen? What did it look like? How much did it cost? How long have you had it? We answered as best we could and then thanked him for coming. Dejected, I went back to my leaf blowing wondering how and why someone would do such a thing.
An hour later after clearing the yard of leaves, I went back around the house to where our goal had once set. Doing my best Sherlock imitation I poked around for clues. Nothing.
Then the thought occurred to me that maybe some kids from the youth group I now lead were playing a practical joke on me. Teens are notorious for that even in church youth groups. Maybe they carried the goal back into our woods, put a “Ha-ha” sign on it and took a selfie.
It was worth a shot so I started walking back into our woods. About two-thirds of the way to our back property line I heard the distinct sound of a basketball bouncing. That seemed odd. I moved forward a few more yards hiding myself behind trees.
From my vantage point, I was able to see through the back of the woods into the clearing. There on a concrete pad at a neighboring subdivision were four kids playing basketball. This immediately sends off a warning signal because in the over 10 years we’ve lived at this location and spent time in our woods, there has never been a basketball goal at that location. I had to get a closer look.
First I came inside to get my binoculars and “a means of protection.” Then I routed myself through the woods in a way so the kids would not be able to see me. I crouched low staying out of site and eventually army crawled to the edge of the ridge that overlooks the neighboring subdivision. Peering through the binoculars from about 100 feet away confirmed my growing suspicion.
That’s my goal!
Ten hours later, after dark and after all the kids had gone home, I made another trip through the woods. Flashlight in hand, I descended down the hill and walked all the way to the goal. Same base…same supports…same pole…same padding around the pole…same backboard with orange trim…same adjustable lever mechanism that squeaks when you move it up and down.
Did I mention this goal is at least four years old? What are the odds of someone having the same four-year old goal, situated at a location where there has never been one before just a few days after I found out ours has been stolen? I say slim to none.
What am I going to do about this?
Of course I want the goal back. However, another issue is complicating the situation. The back of our property is right at the county line. Guess where the goal is? Just past the county line.
We called the sheriff who filed the initial report and told him of our discovery. After discussing it with the detective, he told me the news I expected but didn’t want to hear.
Because I don’t have a receipt, model number or personal identifying marks on the goal, they will not cross jurisdictions and go raise any accusations. They will need 100% proof to make a case and I don’t have it.
I feel like the Duke boys not being able to cross the Hazzard County line.
Feeling Helpless But Moving On
There really is little I can do at this point. I’m not the type of person to go take something (even though I’m 99% sure it’s mine and multiple people have volunteered to help me). These kids have already been sneaking through my woods and been right next to my house so I don’t want to embolden their poor behavior by escalating emotions.
We are trying to make a connection with the subdivision homeowners association wherein the goal resides. We learned the covenants of that subdivision disallow basketball goals on any property, so the fact one is at the play area they manage should raise suspicion. Perhaps they can ask the questions of the kids as to where the goal came from. I’d love a resolution that returns my goal but am not holding my breath.
At the very least, perhaps playing basketball on my goal will cause them to leave me alone.
For now, we are leaving our exterior lights on at night. We’ve alerted our neighbors and our own homeowners association about the incident. We inspected all our door locks and will be setting our security alarm more often than we have. And if we buy another basketball goal, I’ll either chain it to a tree or buy one that mounts into the ground.
Finally, and this may seem odd to some of you, we are praying for these kids. Obviously the lives of those who carried off my goal are heading in the wrong direction. They need some intervention that goes beyond earthly influence.
It’s going to be tough pulling in my driveway each day knowing my stolen goal is nearby. I’ve already caught myself reliving the anger of those first few moments when I realized the goal was gone. That doesn’t help me move on though. Although I’m extremely disappointed, I can’t let this emotionally disrupt my life. A $200 basketball goal just isn’t worth getting continually worked up over.
What would you do in my situation? Have you ever had something taken from your home? How did you deal with the situation? How did it make you feel?
Prior Post: Starting a Small Business in 2015