An open letter to the guy who tried to break into my house last night

by Brian Clarey

Dude: What the hell, man? It was 4:30 in the morning.

I was having the best night’s sleep in many weeks when my home alarm started wailing that piercing siren and I leaped out of bed to take you on.

You must have been doubly freaked that the police got there so quickly. Yes, the Greensboro Police Department is no stranger to my neighborhood, and they can beat a path to my door in less than two minutes. You’re just lucky they didn’t bring the dogs this time.

I get it, man. Times are tough. I myself know dozens of unemployed folks — good ones — who have been shut out of the job market. They’re getting pretty desperate, too. But none of them, to my knowledge, have added “attempted burglary” to their updated resumes.

You shouldn’t either. First of all, you suck at this. If you had any real smash-and-grab experience, you’d have noticed that the window you tried to pop open is secured with a big piece of wood, and also that it was locked, and also that it is hooked up to an alarm trigger.

You also would have avoided hitting a house where people were actually inside, because that changes the nature of the crime, affecting charges and sentencing.

And you also would have surmised, from my modest, blue-collar neighborhood — which is likely right around the corner from the place you stay — that there are much bigger fish in town.

I’ll tell you right now: There is nothing to steal in my house. We don’t have any cash. There is no expensive jewelry in our house. Our desktop computer is older than two of our children and both of our laptops are broken. In fact, we don’t have any expensive gadgets, except maybe the TV, but good luck lugging that thing out of the house as I’m chasing you down.

What, exactly, were you hoping to steal from me? My books? My lawnmower? Our food? Our collection of nicked and scarred DVDs?

The only things of value in our home are us, and you need to know I will gladly and enthusiastically protect us with my life.

Did you realize I had kids in the house? Did you even care? That callousness is another huge mistake.

You probably don’t know this, but you’re not the first to try and take what’s mine. Not by a longshot. Sure, I was scared the first couple times I got a gun pulled on me. And yeah, the first time someone broke into my house it spooked me for a few weeks.

But the thing about scary stuff is that it stops scaring me after it happens so many times. Then it just pisses me off.

And you need to know: I was pissed off at you. I still am.

Brother, if you had stepped one foot in my house I would have beat you until you couldn’t move. I would have smeared your blood on my face like war paint and kneeled down to break every one of your fingers with my bare hands. I would have dragged you outside to my front lawn to ward off other would-be intruders. Then I probably would have peed on you — not sure why, just seems like it might be an appropriate thing to do.

Yeah, I’m sick like that, especially if I feel my family is in danger. But dude, nobody wants things to end for you like that. And believe me, there are better and smarter ways to expend your energy.

Statistically speaking, you’re probably just a kid, which means it’s not too late to turn things around.

If you’re still of school age, you should definitely not be out at 4:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. You should be home sleeping, so you can go to school the next day. You might not believe me, but I promise you that if you don’t have at least a high school education then there is not much out there for you in the way of employment — besides a lifetime of petty thievery, that is. And, as you probably suspect, crime is a young man’s game. You don’t see too many 40-year-old men creeping around people’s backyards at night with crowbars and flashlights.

There’s a reason for that: After knocking around the courts and corrections systems for a few years, guys like you eventually realize that life is safer and easier by more or less abiding by the law.

And here’s something they won’t tell you on the street: It’s more lucrative, too.

Sure, you hear about guys making big scores when they don’t play by the rules. Maybe you’ve even seen a few guys flashing around wads earned purely by their wits. But those are exceptions, and even those guys eventually must pay for their deeds in legal fees, spilled blood and hard time.

And common thieves don’t make very much money at all — unless you’re planning on upgrading to a big art heist or a casino caper, which I would advise against because, as I’ve pointed out, you suck at this.

The truth is that you could make more money dancing on the side of the road dressed as a cow than in your current line of work, with just a fraction of the risk.

And if you turn things around now, you could graduate from high school, learn how to fix cars or drive a truck or run pipe and carve out a nice little existence. You could even go on to college and graduate school, make a name for yourself, change the world.

Or you can keep hitting houses under the cover of darkness, which as I’ve explained will eventually land you on the ground, broken and bleeding. Especially if you come back to my house.