REAL LIFE

Burgled at my baby shower

Agata didn't want a typical celebration - but what she got was terrifying.

Agata Sleeman, 36, Perth, WA

Settling in the garden chair, I rested my hands on my blossoming belly. It was a beautiful day and our backyard was buzzing with laughter and chatter. We had a lot to celebrate.

I was 38-weeks pregnant and instead of having a traditional baby shower, my husband Alex, 36, and I had decided to have a barbecue with our loved ones. We had been planning it for weeks and spent the morning running around getting things ready.

As our guests began arriving at 1pm, we gathered in the backyard and talked about the exciting road ahead. People came and went, so we’d left the front door unlocked in case we didn’t hear them knock. As the sun went down, there were still around 12 of us left.

I’d just taken the weight off my feet when a noise inside the house caught my attention. It sounded like something was scraping across the kitchen table. ‘What’s that?’ I asked, startled.

‘Something’s not right,’ I thought.

Suddenly, our border collie Cooper came bounding down the side of the house and I heard the front screen door loudly slam shut. Thinking our friends had forgotten something, I heaved up my heavily pregnant body and ventured inside. Looking around our small two-bedroom house, no-one was there.

Something’s not right, I thought. We had lived in the neighbourhood for two years and never had a reason to feel unsafe, but as I stepped outside onto the dark street, a shiver ran down my spine.

Looking left and right, I still couldn’t see another soul. But as I turned and headed back in to our front yard, I spotted two pairs of sinister eyes glowing in the darkness. Protectively covering my belly with my hands, I froze, staring at the strangers dressed in black hooded jumpers.

I spotted two pairs of sinister eyes glowing in the darkness.

I tried to stay calm but deep down I knew my baby and I were in danger. These people were in our house! ‘What are you doing here?’ I asked. ‘Mind your own business,’ one of the men hissed. He was trying to hide something under his jumper and alarm bells started ringing.

Whatever these men were up to, I was in no position to take them on! Clutching my tummy, I walked as fast as I could back to the house, slamming the door behind me. I prayed they weren’t following. ‘Alex, I think we’ve been robbed!’ I yelled.

Through laboured breaths, I told them about the two men and everyone raced inside. Most of the guests had left their belongings in the front room, and it seemed someone had rummaged through it. ‘My phone’s gone…’ one friend realised.

Pregnant with Paul
Pregnant with little Paul

In shock, we all searched the house and noticed it wasn’t the only thing missing. ‘They’ve stolen my wallet,’ another said. Suddenly I heard tyres screeching down the street. My heart raced as we headed outside. The thieves had driven off in our friend’s white Subaru!

‘They took my handbag,’ she stammered. ‘The keys were in there.’ The boys tried to run after them but it was too late. The car was roaring down the road. I dialled Triple-0, trembling as I realised the men I’d come face-to-face with had stolen four phones, two wallets, a handbag and the car.

‘We’ve been robbed,’ I spluttered down the phone. Our happy baby shower had become a nightmare. I was too scared to think what could’ve happened if the men had turned on me…

The police arrived five minutes later and as we gave our statements, sirens whirred and a helicopter hovered in search of the thieves. It was almost midnight by the time everyone left. As we went to bed, I was still shaken.

I was too scared to think what could’ve happened if the men had turned on me…

‘We should’ve locked the front door,’ I said regretfully. ‘I’m just glad you weren’t hurt,’ Alex comforted. We’d never had any trouble before, but now I didn’t feel safe in our home. What if the men came back? I had to stay calm for my baby.

Exhausted, I drifted off to sleep, but half an hour later I was woken by a sharp pain in my stomach. ‘The contractions have started!’ I realised, sitting up. The bub wasn’t due for another two weeks. Had the stress of the night brought on the labour?

Leaving the trauma of the previous night behind, I focused on delivering a healthy baby. Five days later, we brought our beautiful boy Paul home. Yet slowly, the fear crept back to the surface. I just didn’t feel safe there. Possessions could be replaced easily enough but now we had something so incredibly precious…

I tried to be strong for Paul but with Alex working late, I was terrified to be home alone. Every voice and noise I heard left me on edge and I kept triple-checking the doors were locked. It was no way to live.

Agata and Paul
Agata with newborn Paul

Six weeks later, we got news that our friend’s stolen car was found, dumped and damaged, but the men responsible still haven’t been caught. They hadn’t just taken our belongings, they also stole our sense of security.

So, to put the incident behind us, we left our once-comfortable home and moved into a new place – it was a fresh start. We’ve since had another son Chris, now 16 months. When he plays with his brother Paul, now three, in the backyard, I’m no longer scared.

While I’m so grateful no-one was hurt during the break-in, I’ve learnt when it comes to my family’s safety we can’t be too careful. I’m definitely much more security-conscious now.

I wanted a non-traditional baby shower and thanks to those thieves, I got much more than I bargained for.

Published in that’s life! issue 47, 2014

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