My heart went out to Liz Fincham when I met her in late March.
Fincham co-owns Magpies Antiques and Gifts in Chemainus, along with her partner Jeff Knadle.
The Citizen received word early on the morning of March 29 the store had been broken into the night before, with up to $30,000 in jewelry taken, so I went there to assess the damage and talk to the owners.
I’ll never forget entering the store and finding Fincham picking through the piles of broken glass that, until just hours before, had covered display cases containing the silverware, gold rings and other assorted jewelry that were stolen.
Fincham told me that Knadle and herself had been at the store on Willow Street since 4 a.m., soon after the store alarm went off in their home nearby.
They rushed to the store, along with the RCMP who had received the call from the security service, but were too late to catch the culprits in the act.
Fincham looked tired and sad, her eyes puffy from lack of sleep and concerns for her store.
“I just want to cry and go back to bed,” she said. “We’re feeling rather gutted and, right now, we just feel like closing the store.”
I know from personal experience that there’s few things worse than having your personal space violated in such a manner.
My home has been broken into twice in the decade that I have lived there.
Both times were mostly attributable to my own stupidity and carelessness in leaving my house open and vulnerable, and my home is now always locked up like Fort Knox when I’m not there.
But that sinking feeling in the pit of my gut that I felt when I first discovered that some stranger full of ill intent was in my home is something that will stick with me forever.
It should be said that very little was taken each time. Other than some change on my dresser and some knick-knacks from my living room, neither break in hit me very hard in a financial sense.
I guess there’s some satisfaction in not having enough disposable income to buy very many nice and expensive things for my home.
But the mess that was left behind as the increasingly frustrated thieve(s) tossed items and clothes from my closets and cupboards frantically looking for valuables as they ransacked my home left me feeling physically wounded.
I was so angry that I contemplated taking a week off of work so I could hide in the house with a baseball bat and do serious damage to anyone that dared enter.
Once I calmed down, I concluded that, as the two break-ins were obviously crimes of opportunity, better security measures might be the right course of action.
The day I visited Magpies Antiques and Gifts, I quickly realized that the anger and feelings of personal violation that I felt when I was broken into were merely a shadow of what Fincham and Knadle were feeling because, on top of the actual break-in of their property and the mess that was left behind, they also lost tens of thousands of dollars that may never be returned.
With the ongoing opioid crisis, on top of the regular mill of just bad people, crimes of opportunity like break-ins are on the rise.
So beware, be careful and keep your homes and businesses secure.
(Robert Barron is a reporter with the Cowichan Valley Citizen.