Friday, October 31, 2008

Calm, Cool and Collected

Yesterday morning at around 10.45 a.m., as I was working in my office (at home) I noticed some noises in the house. When I am working or reading I disconnect from everything (this drives my wife crazy, by the way).

Anyway as I started to get up from my desk a woman appeared, saw me and walked back out. I started to follow her to find out what was going on - frankly I was just curious. As I walked out I was confronted with this woman and two young men, with balaclavas covering their faces and waving a gun in my face. This guy was extremely nervous and that gun was shaking all over.

I guess subconsciously I had realized that the noises I was hearing were out of the ordinary - so I was able to take in the situation very quickly; wasn't shocked or scared. My mind did go into overdrive immediately.

I told them to relax, and repeated this two or three times. We walked back into the office. I was told to lie face down, which I did, with my hands in front. I told them I was taking my glasses off, which I did, placing them in front of me. The rest went rather quickly - they tied my hands behind my back, and my feet.

These guys were extremely nervous, and I remembered hearing or reading somewhere that amateur thieves are much more dangerous as they can get very violent due to fear and inexperience.

So at different intervals, not to close together, I told them to relax and take what they want.

The woman seemed to be in charge - she was the only one who spoke, the others whispered. (At this point, due to the noises and whispered conferences they were having I realized there were between five and six thieves).

She kept on asking where the jewels and money were and threatening that they had a gun.

By this time they had covered me with a blanket. I told them that we don't have any cash or jewels - she kept on threatening, but eventually began to believe me.

I then asked them not to step on my glasses or break them - and she answered with less nervousness, that they wouldn't. The atmosphere which had been heavily charged with fear and adrenalin started to calm down. I repeated my request and someone lifted the part of the blanket covering my head and placed my glasses next to me.

She still insisted on the whereabouts of the money and jewels, but less forcefully until she accepted there wasn't any around.

All this time the others were ransacking the office, and the house in general. Drawers were being ripped out and contents thrown all over the place - they were making a right mess in their quest for treasures (with little luck I might add).

I asked them (politely but firmly) not to take my ID or license as it was of no use to them ...

She answered, quite nicely actually, that they wouldn't. In this last exchange she started (I am sure she didn't realize this) to refer to me as "sir".

I repeated my request and the blanket was again lifted and my wallet placed next to me.

They continued going over the house for about ten minutes. Very occasional whispers came through to me and I overheard a couple of phone calls - in the first one of the men just said "In a few minutes", and the second something like "Nearly ready".

I heard them walking downstairs and a male voice asking loudly for a rubbish bag. Then silence until I heard the front door being closed softly.

I strained my wrists apart and managed to loosen the cord round my right wrist. I slipped my hand out and it was free. I wobbled and jumped around to the telephone and called the police.

I finished untieing myself and quickly looked around. I then went down stairs.

On Thursdays a lady comes to our place to help with the cleaning, and she had arrived earlier on with a friend. I found them also tied, face down and covered with towels. I told them that it was all over and nobody was hurt. They were quite understandably shaking and crying. I untied and tried to calm them down.

By then I heard the police giving a short squirt of their siren and opened the front door.

In all I guess around fifteen minutes elapsed between the moment the thieves appeared (it looks as if they climbed over our neighbor's fence), tied the girls, and left.

The girls were treated much worse than I was. They were thrown to the ground, one of them was kicked in the ribs. They were stepped on while being tied and threatened much more than I was.

Anyway, the rest isn't important. They didn't take very much. My kids' CPU, my monitor, an ipod, a bit of cash the two ladies had with them.

They left me my ID's and credit cards.

The point of sharing all this is we never know what may happen, how we will react or the consequences of our actions.

Always keep calm, no material thing is worth anyone's life or health. If anyone finds themselves in a similar situation, cooperate and keep calm. Don't waste time or energy in being scared, getting angry or panicking (the girls did and they had a much harder time). Think and try to manage the situation.

I think I was able to do this and ended up with a bit of control - these guys were really nervous and dangerous, but I was lucky enough to diffuse this - and, hey, to them I am "Sir"

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