Feeling Safe at Home

British Suburban Street

Our Quiet Street

For the past ten years we have lived in a fairly ordinary suburban house in St Albans. It is a very quiet neighbourhood with lots of pensioners and parents, nothing happened really and when it did everyone knew about it. Things were quite dull, boring even. Children could go out to play fairly freely as being a 1960’s- 1970’s housing estate there are networks of wide alleyways and few cars.

However, things have changed in the past year we have been experiencing a bit of a crime wave. All over the estate houses are being broken into, in broad daylight. People are dealing drugs in alleyways and a security guard was installed in Waitrose. Even reading this makes me laugh. I’ll freely admit it sounds funny and middle class. a middle-class dilemma.

However, last year we were burgled. Our house was trashed and ransacked. The same early evening one of our neighbours suffered the same fate. Since then lots of our other neighbours have had the same thing happen. We have installed burglar alarms and i’m paranoid about locking windows now. We sit in our living room with a large block of wood across the patio door to stop it being jemmied open again.

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At first I was concerned about the children, our daughter was the most affected by it. I wasn’t too worried about the house and stuff, I can genuinely say I was quite unaffected. However, then the doubts started creeping in, who was in my bedroom? Who were these people? Would they come back?

It seems they would, because yesterday someone was in our garden throwing bits of furniture about and yesterday our neighbours were burgled shortly after I left for the school run. Were they watching us? Were they watching me? I’m now sitting here wondering whether the next time I look up I will see a face looking in through the patio windows. Will I wake up in the night to find someone standing over me?

We have been considering moving for a while, mainly because of schooling. However, living in Hertfordshire and with a change in personal financial circumstances its unlikely that we can even afford a similar house. In fact, the house we could get would be about £200K less than what we have now which sort of rules us out of Hertfordshire and since the husband works in St Albans that wouldn’t be much use. To all extent and purposes we are well and truly stuck.

I don’t want to live life in a perpetual state of anxiety. This wasn’t what I signed up for when we moved here. We didn’t want to live somewhere where crime was high and crime resolution (at least on the face of it) low. The circumstances of these burglaries suggests that its the same people, I wish the police would catch them soon. I don’t hold out much hope, funds for policing have been cut to the bones. With all these budget cuts everywhere money is tight for everyone. I’m wondering if this is pushing more people towards desperate measures. Is austerity the ultimate cause of this crime wave?

Do you have any tips about home security? Do you worry about being home alone with the children?

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