I live in a rather subdued and safe neighborhood, and the apartment complex is watched at all hours by a group of security guards. In the past three years since I moved back to Seoul, I never worried about open windows--until yesterday, that is.
The first thing I noticed when I confusedly stepped through the unlocked front door was the open box of my forgotten, unused Japanese sauce dishes on the kitchen table. The unfamiliar sight of those dishes was instantly followed by the thunderous realization that something was amiss. Thunderous. Then, half my body still out the door, I saw that all the drawers and boxes I could see were open--at least partly. You never know how many big and small boxes you live with, when they are all stored neatly out of sight. Shoe boxes, plate boxes, photo boxes, jewelry boxes, and even boxed presents and gifts that you lay aside for future use. They were all open, and things were all out. When I calmed down a bit later, I was actually quite impressed with the thoroughness of the burglars, who went through all the drawers and even looked into the few unused perfume boxes in the closet without taking the perfumes.
Thankfully, the several policemen who came to "the crime scene" were very nice and efficient. One of them was a Crime Scene Investigator, and explained to me how the intruders got in, pointing at the bent bar in one of the windows and the shoe marks left on the windowsills and the floor. While the investigation was going on, they did a good job of patiently comforting and reassuring me who was worried beyond description that the intruders might repeat their visit now that they learned this was a one-woman household. They told me where to call for a quick installation of extra-security window locks and even gave me a few alarm bells that I can attach to doors and windows. These alarm bells have sensors so they will scare and deafen intruders, in lieu of Randolph's roaring, when windows are forced open. Later, two young, sprightly police officers came back twice to see how I was doing.
Most of us earthlings are affected by the extended global financial crises, and we are suffering from the new economy of no economic policies at all (except for "the-rich-get-richer" policy) in this part of the world as well. I had heard of the increasing number of break-ins in recent news, but I never thought those breaker-inners should redistribute MY wealth--or my lack thereof. And I hardly knew whether to be angry or sorry. When I asked the police about the possiblity of repeated intrusion, I was secretly afraid that the extent of my "wealth" offended the burglars and that they might want to take revenge on me for their wasted labor. I only hope that the few trinkets they bothered to take would remind them that most ordinary people should be spared from their grand masterplan of wealth redistribution.
Economic concerns, however, may be a less immediate issue than personal safety. I have an alarm bell on my bedroom door now. While putting it on the door, I asked myself: Will it keep me safe, let alone my wealth? It's supposed to help, of course. But if I ever hear that alarm bell go off in the middle of the night, it means I'm in the presence of an intruder in my own bedroom. This is a strange idea to entertain. Here I am, trying to use something the use of which I should NEVER EVER benefit from. It seems, in the end, nothing can ever keep us safe. All the same, I also had the extra-security window locks installed ASAP as the police recommended. Am I safe, now? I choose to go with the illusion that I am. At least for now.