Have you ever gotten home and found evidence that somebody had been in your home while you were gone?

I had recently begun the process of commuting between Chicago and Atlanta due to my father's health. It was close to Christmas and my father had made plans to spend the holidays in Florida with his girlfriend. That left me free to do Christmas in Chicago.

Everything in the house seemed fine. Just as I would expect since my husband had been home.

I rushed around to do the decorating, buy the food and gifts. On Christmas Eve I realized something was wrong.

My mother had died just a little over two years earlier. Mom was never one to wear jewelry. But for some reason, for what turned out to be her last Christmas, she asked for a ring. An emerald ring. Nothing flashy. But a ring. I was stunned. But I was also pleased that she finally wanted something nice for herself. So Dad and I went shopping and found a beautiful emerald and diamond ring for her. After her death I brought her jewelry box home with me. The ring remained in it except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when I would wear it.

But this year when I opened the jewelry box, it was gone. I dumped all the contents on the bed, sorting through them item by item. No ring. I rushed into the kitchen to tell my husband. Oh you just misplaced it. No. It never leaves the jewelry box. It is gone.

So I asked him. Has Allen been in the house? Allen was my stepdaughter's boyfriend. The first time I met him I told my husband he gave me the creeps. Well dressed. Very attractive. Considered himself above everyone. Shelly adored him.

My husband said he hadn't seen Allen. He did ask Shelly if he had been in the house before he returned from work. Oh no. So her dad told her about my ring. The righteous indignation rang out. Allen would never steal. How could you accuse him?

I was in another room but heard everything. So I heard my husband's reply. "Don't worry about it. I'm sure Karen just misplaced the ring."

Fast forward a month or so. I was back in Georgia with my father. When hubby called that night, he sounded off. Then he told me. You were right. It appears Allen stole your Mom's ring.

That morning, my stepdaughter left for school. My husband was getting ready to leave for work when he heard a noise coming from her bedroom. He walked down the hall, opened her bedroom door and there was Allen. She had left her bedroom window unlocked so he could get in.

My husband kicked him out, locked the bedroom window and left Shelly a note that Allen wasn't to be in the house. He ended the note with that warning all teenagers hate. We will be having a talk tonight.

It turns out Allen had left home and moved in with a friend. He wasn't working and the friend wouldn't let him stay alone in the apartment during the day. So my totally besotted stepdaughter had been leaving her window unlocked for him. This had been going on for a few months. He was finally caught because he slipped in before my husband left for work.

She still insisted he would never steal.

But my husband starting looking through the house. Some very expensive camera equipment was missing. (Gifted to my husband from his father.) Allen had found the key to our shed. My husband did a lot of diy. Elecrical equipment. Gone. Battery charger. Gone. Air compressor. Gone.

This arrogant twit had been hanging out in our home, watching our television, listening to our stereo, eating our food and stealing. The idea of him spending time, pawing through our personal possessions, made me sick.

It not the same as coming home to find your home has been burglarized. But in some ways it is just as bad.

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