They caught him.
To be honest, I never thought they would.
I got the phone call on a Wednesday morning in February. A detective told me a police department in a southern suburb of the Twin Cities had arrested a career burglar the day before. In his house, they found hundreds of stolen goods, including passports stolen from a home a few miles away from us, a home that was burglarized the same day as ours. "I can't guarantee anything," the detective told me. "But you had a red Dell laptop that was stolen, right? I know that's one of the items we've recovered."
I thanked him for the call and sat in the car stunned. Maybe delirious.
I didn't say anything about it on the blog back then, maybe because I wanted to wait and see how the story would play out. The detective said it would take a few weeks to sort through the stolen goods. They literally filled tables and tables with all the recovered stuff. The clip of all those necklaces, earrings, watches, cameras, laptops and purses made for good TV. The day I got the call from the detective, our thief's picture was on every local news station. (And you better believe I poured over every inch of the tape given to local media and sent to me by my detective contact, searching for my jewelry. "Is that my necklace? Oh my word, there's my bracelet from Grand Marais!")
It was very surreal.
Maybe even weirder than seeing some of my stuff on TV was seeing the face of the man who had broken in to our home.
Police said his MO was exactly what we experienced. (And they know this both because of clues he left behind and because they arrested him after doing surveillance.) He would knock at a front door. If no one answered, he would go around to the back, cut the phone line, break open a door with a crow bar and use a pillow case to grab the most expensive and portable items he could find. A few times, he actually opened the garage door from the inside and pulled his car in while he pillaged. It only took him a few minutes to enter the house, get what he wanted and leave. Police labeled him "very efficient."
You might say.
It took longer than I hoped, but eventually, the few pieces of my jewelry that were recovered were returned to me. It wasn't much. A few bracelets, a few earrings, a broach.
But it meant the world.
The blue-and-green bracelet I got at the flea market up north. The pink Mercy House bracelet I bought from Kristen Welch at the Orphan Summit last spring. A 31 Bits cuff I won in a giveaway from Love. A plastic beaded bauble Natalie made me "because blue and green are your favorite colors, Mom, and I put in gold because I know you love the sun." A broach that I borrowed from my mother's jewelry box when I was a teenager. A pair of earrings Corey got me that triggered one of the more memorable fights in our marriage.
Pulling each one out of a customary manila envelope a few weeks ago, sitting in a bare cement county building, it was like greeting a long-lost friend.
And that they are.
So the story ends. The thief has pleaded guilty to the 10 burglaries he's been charged with so far. He will be sentenced next month. Because my laptop wasn't password protected, it was used to sell stolen goods on Craigslist, so for the time being, it's court's evidence. I'm told I'll get it back eventually.
And I will probably never wear those bracelets again without smiling and thinking of the months they lay in someone else's house, of the things they saw. I still wonder what happened to the rest of my jewelry.
But I know I'm lucky to have even gotten back the few things that I did. I mean, who gets robbed and then gets their stuff back?
Time to shop for new jewelry.