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We’ve Been Robbed! Dealing With a Theft at Our Home

basketball goalLast 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.

My Discovery

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?

Image at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  1. Just go get the goal and bring it back to your house. If anyone asks what you are doing, just say some kids borrowed it and forgot to bring it back. End of story! Forget the cops, they are no help.

  2. deborah says

    1.You know who took it, just a bunch of kids, 2.You know where it is, you could take it back. 3. You are a grown man.
    I had my landcruiser stolen a few days ago from my friends garden, with all my personal effects, I am a lone woman, I live with my daughter and my small grandson, I have no money, I cannot afford another and have to trust the insurance will pay for a replacement. I have been stalked for some time, these men know me, where I live, have my keys, know I am alone. That car was a gift from God. I am continually being bothered and robbed because I am alone and female and the devil hates my guts. Be thankful it was not a child they took. I thank God my grandson was not in my car when it happened. I now have to change the locks of my house and live knowing that not far from me are a bunch of evil drug runners enjoying and abusing my car and may well be planning to do it to me. so stop thinking about your cheap plaything. Go and find them and buy them a ball to go with it. Last year someone stole my wedding ring, among other things, someone who knows me and was in my house, went to my bedroom. The devil wants to steal those kids lives. Go and see them.

  3. What the heck?! Useless cops!

    I’d camp out there every chance you get and take pictures of the people utilizing your hoop. And if they ask what you are doing, tell them you are making a documentary and stay vague.

    They will break as you keep on showing up.

    • I was a little disappointed in the response from the police. I know there is no concrete evidence it was mine but at least they could have asked some questions to the homeowners association. They would have known if they had placed the goal in their playground area or not. That would have raised suspicion.

  4. Praying for them is what you should keep doing. There is obviously more than a basketball goal missing from their lives. There is a saying, “It was never about me. It was about God the whole time.” You could start playing with them and be straight up, “Guess you like playing here more than over at my house.” Who knows? Maybe this is your Kingdom moment.

  5. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    That’s alarming. CCTV is really needed nowadays. I am planning to set up one, as lately my neighbor’s house has been robbed. I don’t want it to happen in my house. It never will. Brian, be more careful.

  6. I recently experienced an attempted burglary. I was home alone and heard a knock at the door. Thinking it was UPS delivery, I did not respond to the knock. Then I heard some strange noise and decided to check on it. As soon as I walked out from the bedroom, I saw a guy just opened my front door and was half way coming in. He saw me and left right away. I really thank God for His divine intervention. If I were to step out from my bedroom even half a minute late, this guy would have been inside the house. Who knows what would happen next. . .

  7. Well at least you know where to look incase something else comes up missing. I would doubt they would pull anything on you again though, especially if you know where to look. That is awful.

  8. What I would do is take pictures of the kids playing with it. Then, go and make up a piece of paper with copies of the pictures and a note saying “You have 48 hours to return this hoop to the rightful owner, no questions asked, otherwise the police and parents will be contacted.” Tape it to the hoop one night when it’s not being used. They probably don’t know that the cops won’t get involved and since kids assume that all adults somehow know each other, I’d give it a good chance that they’d arrange for it to be returned.

  9. I went through many of the same emotions when I had my identity stolen and law enforcement agencies did nothing but point fingers at one another deflecting responsibility to act despite the fact that I had THE ADDRESS the identity thieves were having their mail sent to and it was a residential house. So frustrating.
    I think in the future, mark everything with your address if it’s going to live outside – that was pretty common on garbage cans in our old neighborhood where I guess there was a problem with garbage cans being swiped on trash day.

    • “…mark everything with your address if it’s going to live outside…” I agree Mrs. Pop, that’s a good suggestion. If we get a new goal that is what I will do.

  10. awe I’m sorry and that situation sounds so completely frustrating. Not to make excuses for them, but kids do dumb things sometimes. Would it be worth it to try and go up to them and causally see if you can play basketball and get to know them better. Maybe you can guilt them for the rest of their lives. lol! Still, nobody should steal someone’s stuff. Not to one up you, but in the very ritzy Manhattan Beach area (nicer than where I live) two people were held at gunpoints for hours and beaten while they were robbed. There is more and more happening in my area and surrounding areas. We live in a great neighborhood, but the bad ones are only about four miles away, so not very far. That’s terrifying and I live in a one story with not the greatest of protection. Still, all I can do is be as cautious as possible.

    • “…kids do dumb things…” I know. I can remember a lot of dumb things I did in my youth. I’d be really frustrated though if an adult helped them pull off this heist.

  11. I am so sorry at what society deems as acceptable. I would certainly follow up with the HOA to find out exactly where the goal came from. You’d hope parents would be suspicious, but it honestly would not surprise me if a parent was in on the whole thing. Hopefully it will all be resolved in a positive manner, but I think you are right to take the high road. One year someone stole all the outside Christmas decorations from my office. It was not really an expensive loss, but still left a very bad taste in my mouth. I’m not sure what I would have done if I’d seen them on someone’s house.

    • “…would not surprise me if a parent was in on the whole thing.” I thought about that the other day also. I think that would make me even more upset. The stupidity of kids I can handle. The willingness of an adult to be an accomplice is not acceptable. “Hope your kids turn out OK mom & dad. Some great lessons you are teaching them here.” [sarc]

  12. I’m sorry that you got put in this awful situation, Brian. It would certainly scare me and make me feel violated as well. And it’s even worse knowing that your goal is so close but you cannot just take it back. Like you, my initial reaction would be to reclaim it, but you’re making the right choice. As unfair as it may seem, you don’t want to further antagonize them either, especially since you don’t know who these kids are and whether they are the type to ask for forgiveness or seek retribution. And I agree – praying for them makes you the better, bigger person. It’s an unfortunate situation, but at the end of the day, a goal is replaceable. These kids are walking a slippery slope and hopefully will change their ways before they find themselves in serious trouble.

    • I thought about going down there and being like “Oh, cool a goal. Do you care if my kids play on it too?” 🙂 Guess that may have been a bit too obvious. I’m sure they know who I am.

  13. So sorry to hear about this. I had something similar happen, though I never saw it again: my golf clubs were stolen out of my parent’s garage. They were cheap clubs but I had bought a really nice bag. I was NOT amused and was quite angry about it. Our renter also had her car broken into and that was terrible. I installed some new motion-sensing lights but plan on adding a few more soon. The only thing we can take solace in is that I think things like this will become less common as more and more houses are armed with security systems (the price of a security system gets cheaper every year it seems).

    • We’ve been keeping our external lights on at night now and I’m probably going to add a few more motion sensor lights. I’ve even thought about external cameras and maybe even a fence.

  14. When my car was broken into last month, I felt the same way. I had never experienced theft before, and it’s a huge shock to the system. I felt vulnerable, paranoid, and helpless. It’s awful knowing someone intentionally damaged/stole your property. I’m glad you found your goal and at least have some answers, and I hope that you get it back.

    • “…a huge shock to the system.” I think it’s a shock because we think of it as one of those things that always happens “to someone else” (it will never happen to me). Guess I’ve learned.

  15. Wow that really bites! Early on at our house we had a break-in to the garage and the thieves stole some tools, a golf clubs, and some CD’s. The police basically said too-bad. By some twist of fate I found the tools months later in the woods near our house. They must have been to heavy to carry off.

    • “The police basically said too-bad.” This is really frustrating. I get it but it doesn’t make you feel good knowing they can’t/won’t do anything.

  16. I think I know how you feel. While my home wasn’t stolen from, I was volunteering with kids once and my wallet was stolen from my bag. I distinctly remember going through multiple stages that culminated in a cry fest because I felt so violated. It bruised my trust in people and how I felt about my safety for a while. I’m glad the damage wasn’t too permanent because I don’t want to become distrustful overall. I want to keep seeing the good in strangers, which can be hard after a theft.

    I’d have been tempted to go take back my basketball hoop, but in the end I know I wouldn’t. I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope you never have to deal with this again and that you make peace with the situation.

    • “…I don’t want to become distrustful overall…” That’s a solid point Natalie and one I’ve been telling myself since this happened. The majority of people really are solid, honest folks.

  17. You’re doing the right thing and are obviously a better man than I am. I would get a few of my cousins and pay those kids a visit, but I now see that your way is better. Hopefully something will get done about this.

    • “…I would get a few of my cousins and pay those kids a visit…” Haha…I’ve had more than one person offer to be a wing man for me. To all those reading this who did offer “Thank you!”

  18. Very sorry to hear about this Brian but I would have likely done the same and I am glad you choose not to engage the teens when you saw them playing basketball…on your hoop. I have had my car vandalized twice, my apartment years ago was also broken into and my identity was stolen so I have done the 5 stages of grief far too many times for my liking. Like you, I had to resort to prayer to quell my frustrations and know that those who did the bad things to me will at some point face the consequences. Just not by my own hand.

    • I’ll be honest Kassandra…I had a lot of rage inside of me when I saw them using our goal. Even now I’m frustrated by the whole situation. In the end though I know they will be accountable for their actions as I will be accountable for mine. Perhaps that’s why I can let this go.

  19. This is awful Brian!!! There is nothing worse than feeling helpless when something like this happens. I had my car broken into 13 years ago, and I felt completely violated. They only took my stereo and no personal effects; however, I was scared to park in that part of Atlanta again after the incident.

    • It really does make you rethink routines and habits and be more on edge. I’ve found myself paying more attention to the back yard over the last week than I had in all the years we’ve lived here.

  20. Joyce Jolly says

    Know the feeling well. First time we found tag
    Hat someone had broken into our home. I felt violated. Some strangers walking around rifling through our personal possessions. Dumping drawers and leaving a mess. Happened to us 4 times until we finally invested in an alarm system. Even after putting in the system, some person broke in thinking they had just enough time to grab and run before the alarm actually sounded, but when they entered the hallway the motion detector caught them and sent the alarm screaming. They were bold enough to believe they could beat the delay on the door and the probably could have. Of course we do not have an alarm on the garage. Needless to say they got
    Away with weed eaters and other tools. Over all we lost all of the hunting rifles, shotgun, my wedding rings and other jewelry, not at the same time, but over the course of the pre alarm years. I know exactly how you feel., but I have prayed for them. Still do.

    • Wow…that sounds a lot worse off than what happened to us Joyce. It’s sad we have to go through all effort to protect the things we work so hard for and love to enjoy.

  21. You do have yourself a pickle. Hopefully, connections with the homeowners association will yield some results and maybe that will cause the kids to secretly return it, although I doubt it. At least this wasn’t a home invasion. I fully understand that having some stuff stolen is unsettling, but at least your family is safe and it is something that is easily replaceable. That said it still bites. Hope you get some resolution.

  22. Wow, sorry to hear about that Brian. I can understand the dilemma, though I’m certain my temper would just make me want to walk over there and take it back. That said, I think you’re doing the right thing and would be what I would have to do as well as you don’t want to have a basketball goal escalate into something worse. We’ve not had anything stolen from us, though there have been several cars stolen in our neighborhood over the past year or two so it definitely puts us a little on edge about it.

    • “…puts us a little on edge about it.” I know…and that comment about searching Realtor.com might eventually come true. Something like this makes you consider all options.

  23. Sorry to hear about your situation. Having experienced something similar, I can say that this totally sucks! The binoculars line reminded me off a scene out of Sherlock Holmes :). Glad nothing happened to you and your family.

  24. Ugh, how frustrating! When we lived in a neighborhood, we had to deal with this type of stuff (and the decisions about whether or not to agitate the situation by confronting the accused) so much, even in our affluent neighborhood. I might suggest talking to the homeowners: wouldn’t they be concerned that their kids suddenly had a basketball hoop? Then again, that didn’t often work in our old neighborhood: the parents stuck up for the kids even though their behavior was wrong. Praying for the kids and taking measures to prevent further theft is definitely a good option.

  25. Wow, that is awful. I’m sorry. I’m sure it’s tempting to confront them but I wouldn’t want to embolden them either. On the other hand, I would be afraid they might try to steal more of your things if they continue to get away with it.

  26. Sorry to hear this Brian. Tough situation, but might have to let this one go. Best bet would seem to be to make contact with the subdivision and maybe they can get in contact with the parents of the boys who were using it. Our house was robbed a few years back. It’s a very helpless feeling. We lost some cash and jewelry including my wife’s engagement ring. It was never found.

    • It does feel very helpless. It has caused me to re-evaluate what we are doing around the home for security and how I can better protect our property.

  27. Firstly, I love the mental image of you stealthing your way through the woods with your binoculars!!

    Regarding the goal, I think I would let this one go. As you say, its a shame, but by escalating this argument against a group of teenagers over a $200 4-year old basketball goal, isn’t going to end well for you…

    • “…isn’t going to end well for you…” I know, that’s what I’m worried about and why I will let this go. Teens like this have no sense and would push it to extremes.

  28. Oh, that is a tough one. It’s got to be so hard to feel like it’s nearby and it’s yours. My bike got stolen from the garage at work one day a few years ago. I reported the theft, and a couple months later I did actually get my bike back! But this is way harder than that because you have to live with it nearby. I think going through the HOA is the best way to proceed. Surely the parents at that house would have noticed something like that showing up?? I will keep fingers crossed that your story ends the same way as mine and you end up getting it back.

    • I’d love it back so I don’t have to go buy another new one. But I don’t know if that’s the best end result as it would most likely make the kids who have been playing on it for a week mad. I’d be nervous about what they’d do next. At this point I’m of the mind to let them keep it.

  29. What a stinky situation! I think you are doing all the right things. Makes me wonder what other troubles this kids have or will get into…

    I have never (yet) had a theft at my home, but two stories to share:

    Last year we had a crib delivered to our home on a business day. I love 30 minutes away from work and they were coming from 3 hrs away. They were supposed to give me a heads up so I could leave work and meet them on time. They called from my driveway instead. Several neighbors called the police, seeing an unmarked white van in my driveway and I arrived to a police officer blocking them in. He’d quickly determined they were on the up and up and seeing me and my huge pregnant belly emerge from my truck was proof enough 🙂

    Our church was recently broken into. They took nothing but a dummy contribution box. It rocked my faith in humanity for sure, but I tell myself that they must have needed money badly to steal from a church. We are in a fairly Godless place – few Christians and our own congregation struggles to get 30 people on a Sunday. With hubs on travel 50% of the time, I’m often the first to arrive and I unlock everything and wait… And I was creeped out before. Now, I debate even attending if hubs isn’t with me. I’m pretty defenseless with two small children…

    • “…rocked my faith in humanity for sure…” I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not surprised by anything anymore. Shocked when it happens yes…but surprised at how far people will go, not really.

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