It’s dark – very early Tuesday morning, just after the bank holiday. We both wake – we’ve heard something odd. A crack, crunch, scratch or something like that, but in the wrong place. I pop on a dressing gown and wander downstairs calling out “Hello? Anyone there?”. [1]There’s nobody around, so I peer (shortsightedly[2]) out of the front window. Two kids (fifteen? Hoodies[3]) are in the street. They run off (unexpectedly to the posher parts of the Highgate slopes[4]) when my ugly mug pokes above the half height pull-up blinds (terribly clever design, dahlinks).

I think nothing more of it, and go back to bed, noticing that Bridie, my next-door neighbour has woken up as well. Neither Caroline or I sleeps well after that.

It’s Tuesday PM now after work, and I’ve spent 20 minutes trying to wrest the stylus for my Treo out from under the seat of our car, where Caroline dropped it on the weekend. I fail. Wandering back to the house I notice the toolmarks on the windows.

The little bastards from last night were trying (and failing, thankfully) to jemmy the sash windows! One window is externally scuffed but with no obvious structural damage, the other has a hole at the bottom and a serious crack in the top of the frame. The window locks did their work and stopped the break in, but broke the frame in doing so.

So I report it to the police: “attempted burglary”, they say. They arrange for someone to come round Wednesday AM.

We don’t sleep well on Tuesday night, either. Wednesday two young coppers arrive[5]. Not much they can do, as I wasn’t wearing glasses the night before and they didn’t take anything. Before they go they take details for SOCO to contact us on. SOCO is CSI for the UK.

I get a phone call at work at half-past five asking if we can be home at seven. Caroline drops everything and rushes home to find that SOCO don’t arrive until nearly eight – just about the time I get home.

There are two young SOCOs – one is doing the work – fingerprint powder everywhere[6]. They find one perfect print on the underside of the frame – just where you’d brace yourself. Sadly it looks like it was me[7]. They take my prints as well to eliminate me – “It won’t go on the database or anything”[8].

Now the unpleasant job of waiting to stop waiting for the thieves to come back. It takes as long as it takes[9].

No harm done, overall, save yet more sleepless nights – we’re both knackered, and a likely £3,000 bill for replacing our sash windows[10]. First time I’ve had to make an insurance claim in years.

Ten points I found interesting:

  1. According to colleagues, friends, there are two options here: a) call the police, b) go downstairs. I guess b) sounds more heroic, but I’m not sure that it is. I just went – thinking comes later.
  2. You see, if I had been thinking, I would have put my glasses on. I can see without them (even did a driving test without them) but really, it’s not clever. Shows that we didn’t think of “crime” as the first option for the noise – much more likely foxes.
  3. After Islingtonite sneering at the idea of a Hoodie peril, there they were outside my house!
  4. Stereotyping – all the lovely lads who used to try to nick our Punto in Tufnell Park hung around the estates. Is this the start of a Ballard-esque destruction of the middle classes?
  5. But doesn’t everyone seem young when you’re in your mid-30s?
  6. The powder definitely looks black when they are applying it. It goes grey after a night’s sitting on the window.
  7. First thing you do when you see that your window is slightly open? You close it a) to stop more burglars and b) to prevent a draft (how mumsie). Not to preserve the crime scene. D’oh.
  8. Seems that they know that there is public suspicion around collecting DNA, fingerprints from non-suspects.
  9. Like getting on the tube after 7th July (for those of us who were fortunate enough not to be affected). And yes, having a non-burglary was nowhere as bad. But I don’t sleep on the tube.
  10. Sash windows cost £1,000 each! Amazing but true.