I guess I should not have been so clear about our travel plans, as an overzealous blog reader took advantage of the inside information that we would be away for a certain designated period, and took the opportunity for a quick unguided tour of our house. OK maybe it was not a blog reader, but in a very unpleasant turn of events our house was broken into while we were in Belgium. A friend of ours is currently staying in the spare room (don't worry, the Landlord is fully aware of our propensity to take in Lodgers, first the cat and now a human), so she was there to see the carnage first-hand.
Note: italicized sections have now been edited to disguise our "most valuable" items.
It seems that under cover of darkness, someone took a crowbar to one of the front windows, jerking it upward hard enough to break the lock. He went straight upstairs (right past the Mona Lisa/hyperbaric chamber/gold-plated easy chair) and emptied the contents of our bedside tables and Mrs. Dunce's jewelry box in search of valuables. The most attractive items (Betamax, "Get Out of Jail Card, Compliments of Michael Dukakis", assorted baubles) were placed on the bed, and the crook apparently found the most interesting item to be our LCD monitor, as he picked it up and carried it into The Lodger's room. Where, unfortunately for the Lodger, he found a more desirable item: her laptop. So he left the monitor on her bed (I guess "bed" is a staging area) and high-tailed it out, laptop in hand (or case, as he took the case with him too. But not the shoulder strap [????]). Fortunately the entire contents of the laptop had been backed up very recently, but unfortunately her laptop is now gone, and only the cat saw anything (and she's not talking).
Lodger's Boy was first on the scene and found that the intruder had put the chain on the door (I guess to give advance warning if someone came home). He came through the (open) window and saw immediately that there had been a break-in. The police were called and then us (3am Belgium time). We thought of various items that could have been missing (our collection of fine wines, medieval paintings, my diamond dentures, mink stoles, ruby slippers and other fancy items of various kinds; it's amazing how many possibly-valuable things you can think of while lying awake in a hotel bed at 4am, knowing that your home has just been burgled), but as it turned out the one and only item to be stolen was the laptop (OK, there were other items missing. The outdoor sensor for our indoor-outdoor thermometer, and a US$1 bill in Mrs. Dunce's jewelry box). Although I am pleased that no other items were taken, I am curiously insulted that I would have nothing worth stealing (OK, the burglar missed lots of goodies, including $30 or so in US$ in a hiding place, and other valuables I won't mention in case the burglar is actually a blog reader). Except books, and what sort of idiot would steal books? It's also probably a good thing that we were traveling, as we had various valuable things in hand (instead of in the house).
The police dusted the place for prints (Dear Heloise, Do you have any suggestions for removing fingerprint dust from household surfaces?), but apparently the intruder(s) wore gloves. There have apparently been a few very similar instances in the past month on our street. Quite likely a local (perhaps young, as the valuable item from an adult perspective wasn't taken), who has probably been watching the place for a while to get a sense of our routine. I'm definitely watching passersby from our window with a more jaded eye these days; it's a very nerve-racking experience to go through.
The window isn't really broken, but the lock is. So in the next day or two, the Landlord and I will embark on a security mission that will make Fort Knox look like an Absorbubble (TM). Or at least, improving the security of our front windows so that the situation will not be repeated any time soon.
Can you blame me for not writing the last Tallinn entry? Or an entry about our trip to Belgium (memo to all potential conference organizers: do not schedule a free beer reception on the first night of the conference. Especially when the local beer is very strong. Attendance at the second day may suffer)? Anyway I'm back, and I will be at home all day, every day, for the forseeable future (in case you're thinking of visiting my house with a crowbar, don't bother. I've got a small cat and I'm not afraid to use her against intruders).