Late-night break-in

About an hour and a half ago, my building was broke into. Not my apartment, but I woke up a little after 3 a.m. to blood-curdling screams for help, shattering glass and a cat jumping on my head. Never good, especially as a combination.

To be honest, from the screaming, the running, the chaos, I really thought someone had been killed. About two months ago, someone was murdered in the basement of a building about half a block away.

In the last hour, I’ve heard that some apartments in my building have been broken into in the past week — at least one on my floor. Allegedly, the suspects have or had found a set of duplicate keys. Several apartments are for sale, so they could’ve broke in to a real estate lock box, or found a maintenance key, who knows. I’ve been out of town since Friday (dealing with family squabbles), so after hearing that, I’m kind of surprised everything was where I left it. (It did make me walk though to double-check; maybe they just didn’t want to wade through the mess.) A policewoman was leaving the building around 11 last night as I got home; I don’t know if that was related or not. (And I’d usually still be up at 3 a.m., but a cold/cold medicine and an exhausting weekend sent me straight to bed.)

St. Louis has a reputation for crime. Over the weekend, the FBI said violent and property crimes were down last year, but I don’t know if that’s true for St. Louis. Ours isn’t a story that will make the local news, or even a brief in the newspaper. The police left at 4:15 a.m., and most of my neighbors returned to their apartments soon after.

In the immediate future, I hope this means building security will be readdressed — passcodes reassigned, locks changed, peepholes in the doors would be nice, additional security cameras, that sort of thing. Will it actually help? I don’t know.

In the long-term, I’m uneasy about what this could mean for this community, and says about the city.

UPDATE: Apartment 601 — two doors down from me — was robbed Wednesday. The owners use the apartment on weekends, etc., but have not been there for several weeks. When the robbers were done with the apartment (which included taking a big-screen TV), they hit the storage locker for 601, and while in there found that 604 had a spare key to the apartment in its locker. So they took it. Someone new moved in to 604 over the weekend. Monday night was her first night there. The suspects returned Monday night around 11 p.m. and used the key to get in. The new resident woke up (as they were trying to take her laptop), the robbers left and the police were called.

But they came back around 3 a.m., armed with a golf club. I don’t know if they thought the resident would be scared and leave, that she’d sleep through another robbery attempt, if they intended harm or, really, what they were thinking, but one of the occupants of apartment 605 heard whispering in the hall, opened his door and tried his best to clobber the robbers as they left 604. He yelled for help and chased the two robbers down six flights of stairs, even got a description of their car. The shattering glass was a light bulb and fixture they hit on the way out. No one was hurt — at least no one who lives in this building.

Security passcodes have been changed for each apartment (to get into the lobby of the building), locks are being changed and residents have an option to add deadbolt locks — which didn’t exist. The homeowners’ board was meeting tonight to discuss other changes, too.

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