Burglars take much more than just material items
DEAR Mr. Burglar and community,
When I returned home to find my home in disarray and my things ripped off, I felt nauseous with powerlessness. This was the second time you robbed my house, only this time you broke a window to gain entry.
Both times, you stole musical instruments -- guitars, steel guitar and a mandolin. This time, you brazenly went through the house and stole many items of value, but the most valuable items were the two that were worth the least in dollars.
The pretty old classical guitar in the beige-colored case was used during the last 30 years to teach elementary school children the basics of music. It also bought joy to so many of my husband's special students, some of them so disabled and unable to speak. However, their eyes lit up whenever he played them songs on this guitar. The music coming from this instrument was often the highlight of their day. You could see their happiness.
My red-and-white king-size Hawaiian quilt was a gift. It featured lily flowers or Pua Lilia, my Hawaiian name. Sure, the quilt can be replaced, but not the sentiment of happiness I felt when I received it from a precious loved one, knowing it was given to me with so much aloha.
Burglars do far more harm than steal your stuff. They steal your security. They violate your home, plunder your personal space. They steal certainty and replace it with uncertainty. They take the future you worked so hard to build and make it more tenuous. When you try to go to sleep at night, the burglar is there whispering, "I might be back tonight!"
As well as the damage and loss it causes to property, burglary affects our sense of safety and heightens fear of crime. Our beautiful and quiet Waipunalei neighborhood is generally safe place to live, where neighbors know and look out for one another. But it will never be the same. Too many home burglaries have caused this community of hard-working people to live with suspicion and fear. This is not healthy.
The most frightening thought is that the thief lives among us in the neighborhood.
Each month, I read about the increasing number of burglaries on the Big Island. But it is a rare and unusual circumstance that someone is caught in the act, can be positively identified and is ultimately identified by the police. We have lost not only our possessions; we have lost our comfort and security, and that is worth more than anything this person could have stolen from us.
Burglars -- and all criminals whose deeds risk violence -- destroy parts of society. They are like arsonists, setting little fires all over the place, burning down what the rest of us try to build up. To our Hawaii people I say this -- do not contribute to the destruction of our community by buying stolen items. Think about where it came from and how you are enabling a thief to continue this destructive habit. Think about it -- the next burglary could be at your house. You could be the victim.
Pua Tokumoto lives in Waipunalei, Hawaii.