May 10th 2022 has become a key date in our family life. For the wrong reasons. At about 1:30 am, thugs cut through our perimeter wall fence. They were captured on the front security cameras wearing white clothes like those worn by doctors when taking care of Coronavirus patients before they proceeded to climb up and adjusted the security cameras. Some cameras are hidden in different locations including at the neighbours. They did not see them which helped us to see the entire break-in in action.
The thugs can be seen walking around the compound, taking stock of everything around. They then moved around the house slowly, inspecting every window and door. They had a small torch, which they would use to light inside to assess the weakest points, contents in the room and the security posture. We found they had opened most of the aluminium windows. After a full house inspection, they settled on a window located at the rear of the house, which has direct access to the living room. I am sure they must have seen the flat screen LG television set, which gave them the motivation to break in.
At about 2:24 am, almost an hour later, my wife woke up due to some noise. However, when you wake up suddenly, you do not hear everything. At first, she thought it was the stray cats that always come to help themselves with our rubbish before it is collected for disposal. She decided to flash the toilet, just in case. The thieves had the flash and stayed put for a while. My wife woke me up, and I tried to listen and make sense of the situation in vain. Speaking in a very low tone, she advised me “stay put. Don’t go out of the bedroom.”
A few minutes later, I listened and heard the noise myself, I tried to heed her advice. But then, I said to myself, this is my home turf. I have to man up. I got out of the bedroom and moved to the rooms on the first floor. I then checked in the cameras, and I think in my sleepy mode, could not notice the misdirected cameras. I put on the floodlights, and after two minutes, switched them off. I thought the house was clear and this was a false alarm. I heed to her advice of not going downstairs, and instead locked up the rooms and stayed put and awake until around 3:25 am when we heard the noises again. This time we decided that life matters after all and stayed put. Since it was approaching 4:00 am, the time people start waking up, we reasoned that the thieves must be left so, we better wait in the morning.
We were awoken by a loud cry from our shaken House help standing by the cut window. My wife was not surprised, she just looked around to identify what had been taken. All electronic gadgets in the living room were missing. The flat tv screen that always decorates our living room was conspicuously absent. The gate was still well secured. Thieves had cut a hole in the perimeter fence and the burglar-proof window. The thieves use heavy-duty equipment which can cut through anything without making a lot of noise.
I rushed to the CCTV room to check what could have happened. When you watch the CCTV footage of how they were cutting, you get worried about the kind of people and the desperation they have. I am thankful I did not go to the ground floor at night when I woke up. Around the same time, we could see the thugs in the house, they heard me open the bedroom door and positioned themselves by the wall, ready with a metal bar and stones, to pounce on anyone who came down. They stayed put for more than one hour to make move until they were sure we had dozed off.
This is what I observed:
1). These guys have taken their time to plan. They take their time to research your home, to locate what they want as soon as possible without being noticed until late. You need to be vigilant together with the neighbours for the strangers around your home. If you see someone jogging around your home, take their identity.
2). The thieves are physically fit. You could see how they walked. I watched with shock the energy the guy was using to cut and bend a 6mm metal in our window. They took their time to train and plan for the break-in. Breaking into houses is their business. They come prepared and ready to go with something. Better have something they can grab, it could save your life.
3). They are very patient. They seem not ready to move away until they have gotten what they want. They don’t look scared at all. With us moving around the house, they just stayed put seated under the window for almost 30 minutes. They come in groups of four or six. And are prepared for all eventualities. When they break into the compound, they look for stones, iron bars, etc which they then use to break in. Try to keep your compound clear of these items.
4). The thieves carry few tools, only the ones they know they won’t find at your home. They were just carrying a very big cutter. The rest of the items were got from outside my home. The stones in our flower gardens were their weapons. They used the brooms to push the CCTV in their directions and chairs as ladders. The mopping rugs-towels were used to pull the cut metal and seal off the sharp edges that had cut not to injure them.
5). They make as less noise as possible. Other victims of such robberies, who have reached out to share their experiences, wake up to empty houses. Some thieves move with coliform, which they administer to their victims.
The CCTV may not stop the thieves, it helps to know what happened, how many intruders came and how long they stayed. We thank God that we were not harmed.
Going forward, harden your security. Get the neighbourhood watch program. Create social networks online (WhatsApp groups), phone and physical visits. Let the police know your location, but most important your close neighbours. If you can afford it, get dogs and sign up for emergency security response upon pressing a panic button. Let your friends and neighbour keep on their mobile phones throughout the night. It is so bad to call at night and no one picks, yet you are having thieves bagging on your door.
Above all, keep your doors locked (especially your bedroom and those of the children), and stay ready at night for any eventuality. Make sure that if you have children, invest in fixing doors to their beds so that they lock themselves instead. Nothing can be very worrying and desperate than waking up to thieves by your bedside with a knife on your throat! God is on your side. No one will harm you.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, Mr Strategy, 2022. All rights reserved.