And how long have you been burgling?

I once had a friendly conversation with a burglar. I didn’t know he was a burglar at the time, mind you, despite the fact that he was burgling even as we spoke. Burgling me, in fact. I had been semi-woken by some sort of noise – possibly a bang, although I couldn’t swear that it wasn’t a crash – and, alert as ever, noticed that there was what they call “a shadowy figure” standing in the doorway of my room. This was years ago, in the days of house sharing, and I assumed that it was one of my housemates up and about investigating the noise. “What was that?” I asked in the shouty whisper that people adopt when they’ve heard something in the middle of the night and want to find out what it was. “Eh … nothing,” the figure said. “Go back to sleep.” So I did. I think I even said goodnight. Next thing I knew, the stairs were being thumped down, the front door was slamming shut and the entire household was standing at the foot of my bed shouting about their missing CDs. Oops. A Garda later demonstrated how you could open our front door by speaking harshly to it. Your man had just let himself in, didn’t care if anyone was home. Probably high on life, or possibly heroin. The same Garda also assured us that, having discovered we were a pushover (special dirty look for me), the burglar would be back. We bought elephant guns and stared suspiciously at the front door for the next three weeks. Then he came in through a downstairs window one night and got the rest of the CDs. Didn’t even stop to say hello. True story.

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