We had a lovely morning earlier today. The kids and I stopped at a bar en route to their schoolbus for some fresh cornetti. I was able to get a revised paper submitted. Our Italian class focused on stereotypes and we learned how to say all sorts of descriptive things about Italians. Then Jenny and I discovered a truly fantastic tavolo caldo (sort of an upscale cafeteria) where were enjoyed an amazing lunch.

After lunch, Jenny headed off to buy Eli black trousers—a requirement for his choir concert tomorrow morning. And I headed home with big plans to read a newly arrived draft of a student paper.

It took me a minute or two to realize something was wrong when I entered the apartment. Just to the left of our front door is a closet that is kept locked because the owners of our apartment keep some of their belongings there. But the door was open and the light was on. At first I assumed that they had come by to get something. So I shouted a hello, but no one was there. As I approached the closet, I saw that it had been smashed open, my Japanese chef’s knife that usually lives in the kitchen was in the study, and that some of our tools were in the bathroom sink across the hall from the closet.

So I felt my pulse quicken and knew something was wrong. I ran into our bedroom (before having the good sense to think through whether or not someone might still be in the apartment!). There I saw every drawer and cabinet pulled open. Jenny’s jewelry box had been dumped on the bed and all of the contents from our drawers were in a pile on the center floor.

Okay, so we were robbed (sort of). We were the only family that we know here who had not yet been robbed. . .and it was a source of pride. But this story has a strange twist. It seems that the only thing the “robbers” took was our false sense of security.

I looked more closely on the bed and saw that while Jenny’s jewelry box had been emptied, all of her jewelry and her credit cards were on the bed next to it. I ran back to our study and noticed that although every filing cabinet drawer had been pulled open, our laptops, iphones, ipads. . .everything was still sitting on the desk.

And then I thought, uh gosh. . .our passports. . .those will be a pain to replace. So I ran back to the bedroom and saw that the passports were there—in plain sight, atop the pile of stuff. So was 400 Euros on cash. . .sitting right on my dresser.

I walked through the house and the strange pattern held. The closets in the children’s bedroom had been pulled open as well as the cabinet under the sink in the children’s bathroom. They had even dumped out Nell’s handbags and opened the children’s coin purses. But nothing was gone. No cash, jewelry, electronics, silver, art. And yet whoever was here, was here for a while. They had found our tools, which are stored in a back room. They had sifted through a leather folio and through my toiletry bag, and opened every single drawer and container in the apartment. But taken. . .nothing?

I called the family who owns the apartment and they came over instantly. And the Carabinieri  couldn’t have been nicer. On the phone, the officer that I spoke with indulged me with flawless English. And two officers arrived to investigate in record time. They said that they had never seen anything like it—they investigate robberies all the time, and had never seen cash and jewelry left behind. (It was kind of a traumatic moment, but I had never been up close and chatting with members of the elite Carabinieri before—and I gotta say, they looked stunning. They are a level of police above the regular, local polizia; their uniforms were designed by Giorgio Armani).

I recalled that I had unlocked the door when I arrived home. So the door was locked and there was no sign of forced entry. And every window in the house was locked from the inside. So it appears to have been an inside job- someone who had a key and may have generally known the layout of the house. . .and who may have been looking for something in particular. It is especially odd because this apartment is not easy to gain access to. We are a penthouse- very high up on a busy, crowded street. The doors have triple deadbolts. The keys to the apartment are special coded keys that cannot be copied.

So it seems we got off easy. We have some cleaning up to do. But we weren’t home when it happened and didn’t loose anything. A locksmith is here now, changing the locks. And what could be interesting is that there is a security camera at the door (that I didn’t even know about until today). So we’ll have a chance to watch that tomorrow and see what, if anything, the tape reveals. (Of course, we have to make sure they didn’t take personal information for credit theft).

All of this very odd business adds to our adventures. Though I am still entertaining the hypothesis that whoever broke into the house may have indeed taken stuff and replaced all of our belongings with exact replicas. . . .

— Seth