Thursday, November 13, 2008

Piping Mad

I just got back from the meeting with a new realtor at my old house. She seems OK. I haven’t signed anything yet. I'd like to meet more than one before deciding.

While I was there at the house, I got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is, I don’t have to worry about the pipes freezing this winter.

The bad news is...




...that’s because THERE AREN’T ANY.

That's right. Someone got into my house and stole all the m-----fu--ng PLUMBING.

The realtor got there just before I did, so we entered together. Everything looked fine from out front. We peeked around back, everything looked fine. Front door, locked up tight.

We go in. We look at the living room. We both cock our heads quizzically at what appear to be a few stray... feathers?!? on the carpet? Hmm. Someone track them in? Geez, people, doormat? Simple to use, wipe feet before walking into room?

Realtor moves into the dining room. I hear, “Did you leave this door open last time?

I say, “Huh?

I follow her in—

The door to the garage is standing wide open.

The door from the garage to the outside is open.

OK that explains the feathers.

Everything in the garage is fine (wasn’t much out there worth taking).

I mutter something about people not locking up after themselves but think nothing of it because if someone didn't shut either door tightly and/or lock it, the wind or the eater of feathered things could have knocked it open. At this point, I'm still running with the wild animal invasion theory.

We look at the kitchen, she suggests painting the cabinets would improve it immensely and it’s cheaper than a redo.

We go upstairs. Everything’s fine, no critters. I open the door in the odd closet in the smallest bedroom to show how the shelves come out then you get attic access if you pull out fiberglass insulation—hmm, one of the shelves is down. Open the door. Everything’s intact... hmm. Oh, well, maybe nosy buyers.

All the other rooms, fine. She suggests painting the blue room and putting in the floor, and adding the transition sections from carpet to pergo in the rooms.

We go back downstairs then down to the basement. I notice the deadbolt to the basement is unlocked... hmm. People really should lock everything up the way I had it, turn off the lights, turn down the heat, geez. These realtors who show houses...

I go first. I take her flashlight (no electricity right now until I pay the bill and reinstate it). I get down there, and in the dim light, I realize... hey... who messed up the floor? It looks like someone dumped a bunch of drywall—

No wait, that’s—

Acoustic ceiling tiles? What are they doing on the—

WHAT THE F---?

Then it hits me. Someone has been in my house with ill intent.

Several ceiling tiles have been pulled down and broken (ruined) along the back wall. The metal frame that held them is bent beyond repair, wrenched from the ceiling. Wires are hanging down. There are a couple of insulation chunks pulled out. I think nasty thoughts about the damage and clean up, think, “well, I suppose I’ll get some insurance out of this”, then I think that’s the worst of it but then the realtor points out what I hadn’t noticed.

All the copper plumbing is GONE.

The pipes connecting the water heater are GONE.

The sump pump is messed up.

The security system horn has been ripped from the wall.

I nearly puke.

I turn to the realtor and say, “Without doing anything to it, how fast can you sell this place?” because I have now realized the option of renting is out of the question, I want nothing more to do with this house or this neighborhood, and I want the house GONE. NOW.

She’s going to work up some figures (with and without repairs).

We discovered the garage door was unlocked. I LOCKED IT LAST TIME. I bolted it. I made sure to give it a good jimmy to make sure it was solid. The bolt no longer works. Dunno if it was broken off or sawed off. But it was easy to open it up. Meaning, they left it accessible. My house has been standing wide open for God knows how many weeks (since the last realtor got the keys) and I had no idea. I’m sick. Well, we jammed a whole bunch of boards and stuff against the top to block it from being opened and I pulled the emergency brake. Bout all I can do unless I wanna call the garage door people too. I don't know if I mentioned discovering this summer that the wire had been cut to the power to open it electrically so I couldn't use the clicker to open it anymore? HMMMMMM.

(Sidenote. Must check to see if garage door opener is still in junk drawer. Even though the electricity has to be on for it to work.)

She left. I called the insurance company and the cops.

My insurance agent said because it’s been vacant the last 30 days and it's vandalism, my claim would very likely be denied and they’d cancel my policy, so... best not to file a claim because other things are still covered.

F---.

(So... arson from the outside would have gotten a settlement, but plumbing vandals doesn’t. And arson from the inside, such as vandals going inside and having a seance in the living room that goes wrong... not covered. Good to know.)

While waiting for the cops for about an hour (growing more impatient the darker it got), I saw a truck pull in next door at the house that had been vacant since 2005. I marched right over and introduced myself. The house is being rented. Nice family. Met the Dad, waved at Mom and the kids. Parents are about my age. We talked. We exchanged numbers. He’s keeping an eye on it for me. He has guard dogs that bark when a fly lands. They’ve only been there a month. He knows people who might be able to do the repairs. He also knows people looking to buy AND rent a house. I have feelers out.

Apparently, that’s why I was put on “hold” by the cop arrival, so I could meet the neighbor. Maybe he'll somehow be the blessing.

He did mention one thing of interest. Said a kid "not from the neighborhood" came and knocked on his door at 11:35 PM the other night. Asked to use the guy's cell phone. The guy was like "are you kidding me? No." Kid says, "OK, well, will you give me a ride back to the inner city?"

Uh... that would be NO?

I have to wonder if it's related to this at all.

A very nice cop came. He hates vandals who do this, with a passion. He did a VERY thorough job of inspecting stuff. He took a sample of pipe that had broken off. He fingerprinted the garage door. He said as long as I have it locked up tight now (which I do), and they can’t get in through jimmying a window (they jimmied a screen but discovered the windows are unjimmiable), the only option would be breaking in, and that makes too much noise.

He said they probably won’t come back because they already stripped it. He’s on that beat every night, and he said he’ll watch the house and do random checks. For once, a helpful cop. He managed to lift a partial print off the garage handle. (I learned fingerprints don’t last long, especially in rain, so... it was recent. Also no chance he got one of mine from months ago.)

While we were down there, we discovered that they even took the pipe the City put in from their line. They BROKE the water meter. (I just paid the damn bill to prevent shut off this week!!!!)

So, I’ve paid over $7000 to reinstate the damned mortgage (can I renige on that? I'd like to uninstate?), I have about $1000 to pay the electric company to get IT turned on, I had about $300 of repairs already on board for paint and door and now add $2000 worth of damage to the plumbing and ceiling in the basement (at least? according to the cop). And friends, I am still not working. And as I have no credit cards to speak of (other than Home Depot), this is all coming out of the cash I got when we sold Lot #3. The money I was supposed to survive on and start back in school with.

I have to have the ENTIRE basement water system reinstalled. Not something I can do myself, go to Home D, put it on my card. Nope. Licensed plumber. AND I have to call the City of Toledo Water people to tell them to come fix their meter.

Surprisingly, I’m calm. Maybe I’m just in shock. Maybe I figure, well, let’s see—terminal illness, two dead parents, fire at the one house... yep, pretty much par for the course, this compared to that is less worse... nothing I can do about it. It happened. No sense getting all freaked out. Won’t change it.

Hey, on the plus side, besides no frozen pipes to worry about, the criminals also had the decency to turn off the main water supply. No water damage. It's a small favor.

Do you have any idea what God’s trying to teach me here? Go ahead. Lay it on me. Cuz I can’t figure it out. I think I might as well give up on going back to school or any more horsemanship stuff, though. I’ll probably wind up working two jobs—IF I can get them—to pay for all of this and survive. {sigh} Because I can’t see much of a way out.

Well, if the last piece of property in the estate—of course, a house—sold right away, maybe... it sure would help. I was hoping my house could sell to finance my education and relieve me of the financial hemorrhage, but... now? I dunno.

I’m really trying to stay positive. I’m trying to see that there could be a blessing in this. I thought, repeat, insurance... but... probably not this time, so...what? What could it be? There HAS to be a blessing. I could be incredibly frustrated right now. I’ve been trying to get this bitch of a house sold for a year now. I’ve done what I can, without any money to work with. My hands feel tied. I dunno. In this case, I almost am leaning towards feeling like a victim.

Help me out here if you have insights. I’m just gonna eat, watch my TV shows, get lost in fake problems on Grey’s and ER, and see if God tells me anything.

I’m essentially OK. So far. I have given up on it. What I mean is, I can’t sit and worry about what else might happen to it when I can’t watch over it. So, I’ve given up. What happens, happens. Cross that bridge if it arrives. Oh, well. I’m not dead, so... as long as it isn’t killing ME, oh well, I’ll deal. Whatever. Maybe I should have just let it foreclose. Makes you wonder. Maybe fighting that wasn’t the right idea. Maybe fighting to keep it safe isn’t worth it anymore.

I am SO glad I no longer live there. It’s just not safe.

My hunch is that somebody cased it. Somebody called the realtor, posing as a buyer, so they could check out the access possibilities. I called my old Realtor to find out if it had been intact last time she was there and mentioned someone must’ve cut the garage door wire to allow for access. She said she doubted that, because someone would have to be alone to do that and no realtor would allow that to happen.

Oh yeah?

When I went to look at it in 1999, I did what they advised on HGTV and asked for a few minutes by myself to get the feel of the place. My realtor obliged. I could have done ANYTHING while she was out of eyeshot. If there was more than one person with a realtor, anybody could easily distract the realtor while another slipped out to go to the car, make a phone call, use the bathroom (cut the wire, unlock the door)... please let’s not be naïve about this. I am betting that someone cased the joint, then came back later to steal the pipes. They left such a horrendous mess down there. I’m so f---ing mad. Except it’s so deep down inside it hasn’t emerged yet.

I feel doubly violated now, because it’s the second break-in I’ve experienced with that house and it always costs ME money and (thankfully) they never take anything of VALUE! When I lived there, they destroyed my front door ($700) and stole the rent money from my roommate I was going to deposit the next day ($500) and a bunch of quarters and my roommate's old video camera that was busted. They cost me all that, for what? Well, they got cash. This time they ignored vacuum cleaners and lamps and went for copper pipes. I'd rather they had stole the vacuum and lamps. But $2000 worth of plumbing repairs? Oh my GOD.

Then my Sunfire was broken into three times when I worked downtown. I mean, GEEZ! What the hell is WRONG with people?

No city life for me anymore. Nope. Not ever. My suburb is looking mighty nice right now.

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2 Comments:

At 8:45 AM, November 14, 2008, Anonymous Erin said...

That totally sucks. They are having issues around here with that lately, too. Lots of foreclosed houses ready for pilfering. One of my customers was home when they started cutting her pipes on the outside of her house! These people should really just find a job, even McDonalds would be better than getting busted and thrown into jail, right?

 
At 3:24 PM, November 15, 2008, Blogger Sheepish Annie said...

Holy cow! I can't believe the luck (or lack thereof) you are having with property. This is just ridiculous and I honestly can't see the lesson in it either. Except maybe that it was good you got out when you did...

Here's hoping that the place sells and is off your plate quickly.

 

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