In late April 2010 the south London home of Britain’s Conservative Shadow Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, was broken into while he slept. The burglars nipped in, stole his laptop, pinched his mobile phone and then helped themselves to his car on leaving.
They’d pulled large kitchen knives out of a drawer and left them to hand, presumably to confront Fox if he woke up.
But he didn’t.
Toddling down the stairs at 7am the nexy morning he must have been confused to see he’d left kitchen knives on the kitchen counter. “Did I leave those there last night?” he’d have asked himself. Then it would have dawned on him that, no, he didn’t. Which meant….someone else did. Then of course he looked around, discovered the thieves had stolen his laptop, phone and car and called the police.
Many people fear hearing an intruder in the night. In the movies, it’s often a footfall on a breaking twig just outside in the dark shrubbery that lets the muscly hero/fragile heroine know an intruder is there. Or it’s a sound outside the bedroom door and that awful moment when the door handle starts to turn silently, from the other side.
In practice, I’d guess quite a lot of people have Mr Fox’s experience of sleeping blissfully through the robbery of their house.
A rented house I lived in many years ago was burgled in the night and I didn’t hear a thing. The landlord was a leather good salesman. Although I rented the house he kept one room filled practically from floor to ceiling with leather coats, leather jackets, leather trousers (eeew), leather wallets and leather everything else you can think of.
In the morning I woke at my usual hour, stretched my sleepy arms, rose and ambled to the kitchen. Something wasn’t right though. The front door was slightly ajar. So was the door to the “leather room.” I closed the front door and went to the leather room and pushed the door wide open. Peeking in I saw – no leather.
I don’t think the burglars were ever caught. My very sweet Italian landlord, Enzo, wrung his hands repeatedly when he figured out how much money he’d lost. I don’t suppose he was insured.
I thought of this the other day when I woke up because the cat who has chosen to live at my house had wreaked minor havoc in the night and, like Liam Fox, I hadn’t heard a thing.
The issue seemed to have revolved around a mouse because I found a partial mouse in the sitting room. The chase had evidently been energetic. A radiator had been knocked off a wall. Two pairs of shoes had been knocked down some steps. A cushion was lying on the tiles. A magazine was lying askew under a curtain.
Although I wouldn’t expect to hear the little items knocked for six I was surprised that the radiator clanking onto the tiles didn’t disturb me.
Those of us who keep a phone by the bed just in case an intruder prompts us to contact the police, may or may not take comfort in the fact that, were an intruder to intrude in the night – we might just carry on sleeping!