"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Thursday, March 03, 2005
bur-glary Function: noun 1 : the act of breaking and entering a dwelling at night to commit a felony (as theft); broadly : the entering of a building with the intent to commit a crime 2 : what started this whole thing
I knew something was wrong as soon as I drove up and there were keys hanging from the lock of the office building.
It was Monday afternoon. It had snowed all night and all morning, and Mitsi had asked me to drive to our plant (which is currently closed for business) and take care of the office cats. I readily agreed, since I have a four wheel drive Jeep and she has a Mustang with bald tires on the back.
As soon as I got on the highway it became clear that the road conditions were pretty normal, the road crews had done a good job of keeping the roads clear. So the drive was easy.
Mike, Mitsi and I, the only three people with authorization to be on the plant site, had been there over the weekend changing locks and doing whatever we could to protect the site after the cat incident a couple of weeks ago. The fact that there were keys apparently being handed around by Gary, the former plant manager was definitely a bad thing. Since I wrote that post, we discovered thousands of dollars in stolen equipment. We also suspected that someone may be attempting to steal two of the company Mack trucks, since they appeared to have been meddled with.
We changed the locks on the offices, changed the lock on the gate (a partial solution at best since the plant has a break in the fence, courtesy of a former plant manager), put "No Trespassing" signs up all over the place, and Mike wedged the two trucks between two forklifts. He also removed the valve stems from a couple of the forklift tires, flattening them, and removed the air hoses from the trucks. Mitsi took the keys for the trucks and the forklifts and put them in her car. No office keys were left on site, no gate keys were left, and other than one for Mitsi and one for Mike, the rest were in my glovebox. The new locks were the best that Master locks makes, the best we could buy.
Or so we thought.
I sat there looking at those keys, and realized something was very, very wrong. I called Mitsi. "Mitsi, did you leave your office keys at the plant?"
"No, I have them right here."
"Well, I am looking at some hanging in the lock. What about Mike?"
A puzzled silence. "Uh, he hasn't been to the site since we changed the locks."
So that ruled out whoever was supposed to have keys.
I went to the door, and tested the knob. It was locked. I turned the key. It unlocked it.
I found my key to the deadbolt...and it no longer worked.
We had changed the deadbolt two days earlier. Perhaps they had put the originals back. I tried the key from the bottom lock, which if the lock was changed back would have worked. It did.
So now, I had the primary and deadbolt locked, which should have been keyed differently, working from the same key, like it used to with the old set.
I walked in. I immediately checked the cats, who were fine.
Next, I noticed the key locker. It had been ripped from the wall, pried open, and all of the keys were scattered everywhere.
I also noticed that there was a deadbolt and a door lock sitting there, drilled.
I called the Sheriff to report a break in and a burglary, and called Mitsi to head to the plant to verify what might be missing in her office.
While I waited for the deputy, something kept nagging at me. Something was very out of place here.
Why were there keys in the door?
Wait a minute...
I went back inside.
Both the top and bottom locks had been drilled.
And the bottom lock was half of the original set.
So, what was that on the door??!?
I took out my own keys. One by one I tried them on the top and on the bottom. None of them worked.
The only keys that worked were the ones I had found in the lock.
There was a case for a lockset on the counter, which I had assumed was the one for the locks we had replaced. It wasn't.
This was really strange.
When the deputy arrived, this is what we concluded. First, someone drilled the locks. Then they tore the key locker from the wall and busted it open, taking who knows what since we didn't have any sort of tally of what was in there (thank you Gary.) Then, and this was the really odd part, they took the time to replace the office lock with a new set, kindly leaving one set of keys.
And all of this, it turned out, without entering the site with a vehicle. They had walked around the side of the property to the break in the fence.
I didn't have a clue what they now had keys to. It was getting dark, and I decided the first order of business was to change those "new" locksets soon as possible. Mitsi took all of the remaining keys from the office and put some rather heated signs up for the person who had broken in. The next day (Tuesday) I went to get new locksets and headed for the plant.
As soon as I drove up, before I even touched the gate, I knew something was wrong.
There were the two Mack tractors, one hooked to a trailer, parked next to our scales.
I called the Sheriff. "We have a robbery apparently in progress."
"We're sorry, but all of our deputies are in court. You say it's in progress now?"
"Yes! I'm looking at two tractors and a trailer that have been moved and apparently are in the process of being stolen right now."
"I can have state come out. Are you seeing any activity?"
"No, but there sure has been some!"
I sat at the front gate and waited, ready to take off if I saw anyone in the site.
When the officer arrived, we headed in.
Sure enough, it was our Mack tractors, and one of them hooked up to a trailer. The ignition locks had been changed. Oddly, there were keys left in the ignition. I took them. All of the door locks were missing.
Again, no vehicles had been into the site. They had walked around. But this time, there were clear footprints. And there were identical day-old footprints at the office. This was the same person who had broken in the day before.
And in the seat, a receipt for extra keys, with a name on it and a phone number. I didn't recognize the name. The officer took it as evidence.
I called Mitsi. She joined me at the plant, where we added more locks, more chains, and this time Clubs to each truck. Good, I thought. That's that then.
The next afternoon, I pulled up just after lunch and the trucks were gone.
They had them.
With everything we had done, every precaution that we could think of, over $200,000 worth of vehicles just rode out of the front gate and there had been nothing we could do to stop it.
And just as an "in your face" gesture, the thieves had not cut the chain on the front gate. No. They had picked that brand new top of the line Master lock, and relocked it onto the chain in a different way so we would know they could come in anytime and take anything they liked and there was nothing we could really do to stop it.
Total tally, so far: 2 Mack tractors and 4 walking floor trailers, one generator, about $10,000 or more of electrical tools, and more.
But...the story is not over yet. Trust me on that.
We know who did this, and now so does the Sheriff and Commonwealth's Attorney's office. No, this isn't over yet.
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread. --Anatole France