Thursday, September 20, 2012

Vacation invasion

I love Kauai. The whole island has a small town feel, and everyone knows everyone. Instead of glaring city lights, there’s only the pitch blackness of the sea at night. Instead of freeway traffic, there’s only the ocean’s gentle roar.

On our recent Kauai vacation, we easily settled into the laid back island lifestyle. We felt relaxed, protected and safe in our little beach rental.

A little too safe.

Someone came into our house.

About ten-o’-clock on Wednesday night, halfway through our vacation, we heard a loud knock on the front door. A young man stood on our porch holding my diaper bag. He heard some kids on the beach bragging that they found a backpack, and he realized it was actually a diaper bag. The kids obviously didn’t have a need for a diaper bag, so he figured it was stolen property and took it from them.

The young man discovered my wallet in the side pocket with my license still inside. After a quick Google search of my name, he found my blog and this post.

This was the photo he saw on my blog, along with the caption:
We rented a little bungalow a few steps from the beach,
right behind the house we rented 
last year."

He recognized the photo I took from our front porch and immediately knew where we were staying on the island. “I lived here my whole life,” he said, “so I knew which house it was.”


My first thought was that I must’ve left the diaper bag at happy hour earlier that day. I stood there in disbelief that my diaper bag/purse could be missing for six hours, and I didn’t even notice.

Then I realized that’s not what happened at all.

After cooking dinner that night, I went looking for disinfectant wipes. I couldn’t find any, so I grabbed the ones I keep in the diaper bag. That was after we had returned home from the restaurant. And we didn’t leave the house with the diaper bag again after that.

Which means someone had been in the house.

It must’ve happened when we walked across the street to the beach after dinner. Lots of people gather there at sunset, and someone probably saw us leave. I ran back just a couple minutes later to grab two wine glasses to take to the beach, and we returned to the house maybe fifteen minutes after that. It happened that fast.

We had locked the doors before we left. Someone slipped their hand through the small shutters in the backdoor, sliced the screen, and reached through to turn the knob from the inside. It would have been one thing if we had forgotten to lock the door, but we didn’t. Someone used a knife to slice their way in, and that made me uneasy.

We flipped the shutters the other way so they
couldn't be opened from the outside.

We notified the property manager the next day, and he arrived right
away. Until they can get a more secure door, he rotated the screen
so the slit was at the top. 

We weren't gone long enough for the intruders to take much. Our laptop and camera were still there, as well as the all of the owner’s expensive sound equipment, TV and electronics.

All that was taken was our backpack - which the thief obviously didn’t know was actually a diaper bag – because it was sitting on a table in the hallway near the backdoor. Hubs’ wallet was sitting on the corner of the dresser near the bedroom door, easily reachable from the hallway, and his cash was gone, too.

We figured it had to be kids that broke in and not full-on felons because our credit cards weren’t stolen. They took only cash and Starbucks coupons. Everything else was still there, even our I.D.’s. The diaper bag had been ransacked, though, and Quinn’s diapers, sunscreen and a few other baby items were gone, probably just tossed aside while they were rummaging through it.

The recovered diaper bag, covered in Hawaii's famous
red dirt from wherever the thieves took it. I ordered
a new one online the next day, and it was here waiting
for us when we got home from our trip.

I couldn't sleep that night with all the what-if’s running through my head.

What if I interrupted them when I came back for the wine?

What if they actually broke in while we were eating dinner on the front porch, not when we were at the beach? Were we home when it happened?

What if they come back to get the camera, laptop other stuff? Will they come back while we’re sleeping?

Quinn’s room is right across the hall from where the diaper bag sat. They were so close to his room… what if we had been home… what if we had been asleep…

Hubs tried to reassure me that it was just some punk kids and that they wouldn’t be back. I knew he was right, but the memories of growing up in Flint still haunt me.

Someone came into our house when I was babysitting my brother and we were asleep. It was probably just this messed up kid I knew who was trying to scare me. But still… my limited ability to protect my baby brother became apparent.  

I never want to feel like I can’t protect my son!

I remember the anger and pain on my ten year old brother’s face when our house was burglarized years later (after I moved to California) and everything he owned and loved was gone.

I never want to Quinn to feel that pain, that invasion of his security, that loss of faith in humankind.

It really was a minor incident that happened to us on Kauai. Those kids took less than two hundred dollars, and the few stolen items were easily replaced. We were lucky. But that knowledge didn’t stop me from jumping at every sound in the backyard. It didn’t stop my heart from pounding or my hands from shaking. It didn’t stop me from waking up multiple times and putting the baby monitor to my ear.

I know that’s just my past calling back to me and not a reflection of what actually happened. Just when you think you’ve moved beyond something, all it takes is one minor incident to make you realize you really haven’t.

To the Good Samaritan who returned my bag: I can’t thank you enough. We would’ve given you something for all your trouble, but our cash was gone. You gave us your name, but we couldn't find you on the island. If you happen to check this blog again, I hope you will email me so I can give you a proper thank you. You’re a good man. (And don’t anybody try to scam me. We know enough about the guy to know if you’re really him.)


  1. Wow! I'm glad that everyone is safe. Cash is replaceable. All the important things, your family, is safe. I hope the rest of your vacation was memorable for all of the best reasons.

    1. You're absolutely right! We're all safe and sound, and we were never in any real danger. Just crazy where your brain goes when something like this happens. So glad you stopped by!

  2. Well, that's one way to have your vacation ruined. It's sad you can't even go on a beautiful vacation and not have to worry about things like this happening. I am glad everyone is safe though!

    1. It definitely put a damper on things, that's for sure. But we mostly recovered after a day or two and were able to have a really wonderful time. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. How scary about the break in- though so cool at how the bag was returned!

    1. Yes! We were very lucky that a local found it and could easily identify where we were staying. Could have been so much worse.

  4. Wow. That's terrifying! I'm so sorry you had to go through that.

  5. Wow, even though you had the terrible experience of being robbed, you found a great person who returned your bag - a renewed faith in humankind. It's also amazing that he found you through your blog. Glad everyone is ok!

    1. Thanks, me too! I know, isn't it crazy how he found us? Not sure it's a good or bad thing that we were so easy to find, but I'm glad it was a good thing in this situation.

  6. Oh my gosh Melissa!!! I'm so sorry! That would have seriously scared me too!! I can totally relate to obsessing over the "what ifs," it's really hard not to. Thankfully you are all safe and good, and to have such a great experience with the person who was kind enough, and cared enough to track you down... that is the silver lining.

    1. Totally! I feel like getting robbed was balanced out by having a Good Samaritan return the bag. Just when you start to lose faith in humankind, someone comes along to remind you that people are still mostly good.

  7. That would have really scared my wife and I. I am sure we probably would have vacated the home and checked into a hotel....and then right to the hotel bar!

    1. Haha! Sounds like you and your wife should hang out with the Hubs and me sometime. :) Thanks for stopping by, Ron!