26 February 2009
Looking out at Italy from behind bared windows
Burglary - That feeling people have when someone has violated the sanctuary of their home.
Handling insurance homeowners’ claims for sixteen years I frequently dealt with people whose home, their sanctuary, was burglarized. A part of my duties was to meet with clients face to face after the break-in and a common thread that was expressed was the feeling that they felt violated. Here was their home where they should feel safe, raise their families, lock the door and head off to work. A burglary shattered that sense of security.
Italy has a problem with il furto, burglary. I do not know if the situation here is statistically any worse than in the US, though many people have the idyllic view of a stone house sitting on a hillside in the Italian countryside. This can be a prime target for burglars, especially if it is a vacation home that is frequently unoccupied. I know a family who had this unfortunate experience, their beautiful home was burglarized – twice in six months. Fortunately only a few items were taken and the damage to the structure was minimal.
We have talked to the local Carabiniere who gave the not so cheerful news that there had been 120 such burglaries during the past summer in the area of southern Marche, sometimes while the owners were home sleeping. The local newspapers also had articles about the increase in break-ins in certain areas in both homes and businesses. The authorities tend to blame this on the Albanians, Romanians and other foreigners…”of course no Italian would commit such a crime?!”
We have friends in Rome who had their new house broken into only a few weeks after they moved in, despite having heavy steel gates on all the doors and windows. They too were fortunate that only a few things were taken. Curiously the burglars had pushed all the furniture away from the walls; obviously they were looking for a wall or floor lockbox.
As you travel around areas of Italy you will notice that many of the homes look like mini-fortresses with fences or walls, steel entry gates on the drive and intercoms with cameras for the doors are common. Many of the people I have talked to in different areas of Italy concede that the threat of their house being broken into is a given, a part of life in Italy.
This seems so unfortunate to us as we both grew up in neighborhoods where you had no fear of leaving your doors unlocked and when we lived in New Mexico it was not unknown for us to leave the doors unlocked.
Crime is not unique to any one part of the world; it just may take different forms depending on where you are.