How it feels to be burglarized

Photograph by Fernando Decillis

Nicole Guerrero, 41, Personal Stylist, East Atlanta

Nicole Guerrero and her husband moved to East Atlanta in February 2012. It didn’t take long before they were initiated into a club where no one wants to be a member.

It seemed like a rite of passage almost, the first time we were broken into in East Atlanta. We had moved there in February of 2012, and that June, while I was out with friends after work, my husband came home to see that someone had come in through the back window and stolen a TV and a computer.

We weren’t using our alarm at the time, so we took it as a lesson learned. We didn’t make any changes in the house, except to start using the alarm system religiously. But it didn’t impact our daily comings and goings.

The second break-in happened in September of 2013. That was a bigger deal for us. We were sitting at a restaurant, getting some pizza, when the alarm company called. The front door had been kicked in, and our dog was missing. And they had taken quite a bit more stuff this go-round: both TVs, the computer we had just replaced, a camera.

We took the day off and plastered the entire area with flyers about our lost dog, a dalmatian and pit bull mix. We’d get a call and drop everything to go look for her, but we couldn’t find her. Our neighborhood really came together to help us. We spent three days looking. On the last day, at 7 p.m., we were just emotionally and physically drained, and we got a call that she’d just come out of the woods. People were out, pointing and saying, “She went that way,” and a guy in a truck said he’d seen her and drove my husband to go catch her. We were so glad to get her home, safe.

With this second break-in, I was angry. Angry because of the stuff, sure—it was financially a bigger loss—but all of that could be replaced. For me it was the fear of not being able to leave my house. I felt like I was being forced to spend money on additional security measures, and I didn’t feel like I could even go out to dinner or leave for a few hours on a Sunday. When we did go out, we were constantly watching the feed from our security cameras on our phones. It was this fear of leaving the house and wondering what we were going to come home to.

The police reports have been pretty grim in the area. It makes you fearful, but we’re feeling a little better as time goes on. I’m not going to lie and say we haven’t thought about moving. But about 90 percent of the time we love our home, our neighborhood, and the access it provides. So we’re here, and committed. But it’s still very frustrating.

I went to a court hearing for a suspect in some robberies in Decatur, just to show community support and to see the process. I wanted to help send a message that we’re watching. We’re paying attention. This is our neighborhood, our community. We’re done, and we’re over it.

This article originally appeared in our May 2014 issue.