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I got home from a short trip last night and found my house had been burglarized.

Sigh.

Not a lot was taken (more than I thought at first, but still not a devastating material loss). But, I have to say, I'm feeling quite violated.

More across the squiggle.

They say you should not go into the house if you get home and find it burglarized. You should call the police and have them go through it with you -- in case the burglar is still there. I didn't do that, mostly because I'd been home several minutes and had unloaded the car before I realized what had happened. It wasn't actually a safety issue, though, because a quick survey told me the incursion happened several days ago, and the thief/thieves had not been back since. When I arrived home, there was still snow on the ground from Monday's storm and there were no footprints around any of the doors.

When I walked in, I was preoccupied by the task of getting everything out of the car and into the house with several inches of snow in the driveway. I think one of my neighbors must have shoveled the sidewalk across the front because it was clean (thank you, neighbor, I was worrying while I was away about the mail carrier having to walk through deep snow in front of my place). But the driveway, leading up to the back door -- the door I usually come in and out by -- was full of slushy snow, so I came in through the front.

(For anyone not in this region, we had a snow storm on Monday, followed by a warm up, which turned everything into slush.)

After I got everything inside, I went back out the back door to lock the car. I found the back door unlocked and thought "Darn! I must have forgotten to lock it in my rush to get on the road Saturday morning." It bothered me, though, because I don't usually forget that, even when I'm distracted.

When I came back in, I turned up the furnace, which I'd turned down before the trip, and that's when I felt the cold draft from the bathroom. The window over the tub was wide open. Now, I KNEW I hadn't opened that window when I was getting ready to leave. The screen was cut, and I knew instantly what had happened.

Next, I realized the disarray in the living room wasn't the result of my packing at high speed when I was getting ready to leave Saturday. It was someone moving things around to look for stuff.

At first, I thought it odd that my TV was still there. But then I saw my laptop was missing. That was a devastating blow. My laptop is full of passwords. I use a password manager, and if they could get into that, they would have every important password I have. I immediately checked my bank account to see if that had been violated -- and it hadn't. (On further thought, I remembered that the laptop itself is password protected. Not a particularly strong password, but enough to slow down a stupid kid who breaks into houses to get quick money. What I have to worry about is the person who buys the laptop from the stupid kid.)

So, the next several hours were spent changing all my most sensitive passwords. (The password on the password manager, my email, credit card sites, my bank accounts, Google, etc.)

At first, I thought the laptop was all I had lost. I decided not to put myself through reporting it to the police. The thought of having police officers tramping through my house was just as bad as the thought of the burglar being there. I'm not making an insurance claim, because the value of the laptop was considerably less than my deductible on my homeowner's policy. (It's not so awful that they stole the laptop. I can get a new laptop. It's awful that it was MY laptop and it had all sorts of things from my life on it!)

Later, I found something else missing. Something pretty valuable, but still probably not worth making an insurance claim, because I don't have any specific documentation that I had it in the first place. It was my parents' sterling silver -- service for 12 or 16 (I don't remember exactly how many). Antique (it came from my grandparents). I didn't even think about that when I realized I'd been burglarized. I hadn't thought about the silver for some time.

I never added it to my homeowner's policy because I never intended to keep it. Yes, I know it had sentimental value, but nobody in the surviving family really wanted it when we were dividing up the inheritance. We all took things we had a strong emotional connection with. The silver lived in a drawer in the dining room buffet at their house. It only came out during dinner parties, and even then probably not during the last 15 or 20 years of my parents' lives. Neither my brothers' nor I do that sort of entertaining, and when you consider the trouble of polishing it periodically, none of us really wanted it badly enough to take it. So, I took it with the plan of selling it and splitting the proceeds with my brothers.

I started out to do it, but found it was more difficult than I'd imagined. I didn't want to just take it to one of those "We buy precious metals" shops and get its meltdown value. I wanted to sell it as antique and get its artistic value. Since I'm not an antiques buff, I couldn't figure out a way to objectively set its antique value, I stalled out, and the silver has been sitting in its wooden cases in my bedroom for almost six years.

One of four pieces that fell on the floor when the burglar
was loading the silver into the pillow case he stole from my bedroom.
Nearly all my mother's costume jewelry was stolen as well. That was also in my bedroom. None of it had any material value. I didn't wear it. I simply had it because it was hers. It's going to end up in the trash at some pawnshop, because it has no resale value. That upsets me more than losing the silver.

And worse than losing the jewelry -- I'm really not very materialistic, and my memories of my mother really aren't stealable -- is the thought that this degenerate asshole TOUCHED MY BED to steal the pillowcase.

I know I ought to make a police report, even though I can't really make an insurance claim on any of this. I ought to do it so the items get listed as stolen property -- which might help catch this creep. He's going to keep doing this until he gets caught. But I also remember the utter bored disinterest of the police when I reported the break-in to my car a few years ago. (Theives punched out the ignition on my leased Dodge Shadow about 8 years ago. They didn't get anything because the car had a kill switch. But it cost $2,000 to get the ignition fixed afterward -- which sort of soured me on kill switches.) It didn't leave me with the feeling they were going to do anything at all to find the perp. And that was long before the city financial crisis that has resulted in police layoffs.

The bathroom window is now locked. (I'm slapping myself for leaving that window unlocked. It's smaller than most, and higher off the ground. But they used the back patio steps to get up to it.) I've checked every single window now to make sure they're all locked. I'm freaking out a bit, but not so much that I'm thinking about selling my house and moving to the northern suburbs (which several of my neighbors have done). This is MY house and no punk kid is going to run me out. (I'm theorizing that the burglar was young, because the window is small and a full-sized adult would have trouble getting through it.)

I'm also absolutely NOT going to buy a gun. I continue to believe that a gun in my house would pose more danger to me than to an intruder.

I am thinking about an alarm system. But, I'm going to have to think about that some more though before I act.

So, right now, I am just royally pissed off.

Damn!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Psychology and Alarm Systems (9+ / 0-)

    Most important is dealing with the psychological aftermath of being a victim. It is often difficult to relax for a while.

    We are both in our late sixties now, and had never seen a need for an alarm system. Fortunately, we have always lived in very safe neighborhoods.

    But last year there was a rash of smash and grab breakins in our neighborhood.

    We decided to get an alarm system. It functions wirelessly, finding best cell carrier signal. I have it on a UPS in case the power fails.

    I won't name any brands of companies, but if you get a system, ask the Google for reviews, and read widely. Two of the leading companies have horrible, horrible reputations for their pressure sales, contracts, and service. I did not go with them.

    We also got it because now my wife feels much more comfortable if I am gone for a few hours, which often happens, since I go to football and basketball games at the university in the town where we live and I worked for past 30 years.

    Minor monthly cost for a major feeling of increased security.

    We have set the system off a couple of times, and as my wife said, "She thought the Aliens had landed" from the noise and alarms the unit started broadcasting. And we got the calls to confirm form the company within a minute both times. You have to provide the preestablished security code word, or they call the police or fire department, depending on what has set it off. We put wireless fire sensors throught out the house, too.

    FWIW, I filed with our homeowners, and got a nice discount that helped cover the cost of the service.

    "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." “When you come to the fork in the road, take it.” --Yogi Berra

    by HeartlandLiberal on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:21:08 AM PST

    •  Thanks, that's good advice (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ichibon, viral, PinHole, BachFan, ceebee7

      I'm in my 60s as well. I've never really been afraid of burglary. I always sort of figured there were houses around me that look like they've got better stuff than me. :-)

      But I am a single female and I think I'm going to need something to restore my "safe" feeling about living alone. So, I'm going to start researching alarms.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:26:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  For me, an alarm would be horrible (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elsaf

        To have to push button every time I walk in the door. Beep, beep beep...have you been robbed... beep beep beep. Life isn't safe... beep beep beep.

        I think an alarm reinforces the idea that you are not safe.  Beep beep beep... could be robbers... beep beep beep.

        I'm sorry you have to deal with any of this, yuk.

      •  I work for a company that does alarm systems (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BachFan, elsaf

        among other things.

        This biggest thing to watch out for with the national companies is their contract length 36 months is pretty standard, and should go longer than that. 29.95-34.95 for land line based is about average, and shouldn't go over about 45 for cellular or remote access.

        A lot of them have renewal terms that are freaking brutal, with automatic 1 year extensions if you don't cancel by a specific time, and then will mess around with you to avoid receiving your intent to cancel so they can auto renew you. If you try to leave, they will bill you the BOC.

        Make sure you can actually get service should you need it, and its not overly costly. 75-95 is standard ( about what comcast charges for example).

  •  So sorry to hear this. What a bummer. (8+ / 0-)

    But, please do make a police report, if only for the sake of your neighbors and others who may have also been victims of similar crimes.  It's important for crime to be counted.  How else can we combat it if we don't know it exists?  Just my 2 cents.  

    Hope you have some really good things happen in your life now. You are overdue.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:23:53 AM PST

  •  Alarms and police reports.... (8+ / 0-)

    First of all- you don't need to buy an alarm, a sign out front that says you have an alarm (and some stickers in your windows) will do just fine.

    I used to work for an ADT dealer and I have TONS of official ADT stickers still..  If you, or anyone else, wants a few, e-mail me with your addy and I will send you some. As for the signs, you can buy them online (ebay typically) for around $20 per sign.  I would get one for the front and one for the back.  It is just as effective and considerably cheaper.  Also, you are right about the high pressure sales, it is nothing but a sales job- avoid it.

    Secondly, who knew you were going to be gone?  It is not coincidence that your house was burglarized while you were on a trip. It was someone that knew you were going to be gone, and given that it had been snowing, no one was "casing" your house. The person that broke into your home is someone you know, directly or indirectly.  If you don't want to call the police, start at pawn shops in your area, especially those who will pay cash for gold or silver (some places are dedicated directly to that), keep an eye out on craigslist and/or ebay.  

    Also, buy a timer for your lights and TV.  Set it to come on and go off randomly, so it looks like you are home....

    Lastly, get a dog- they are truly the best defense against a break-in.

    You can get animals addicted to a harmful substance, you can dissect their brains, but you throw their own feces back at them, and suddenly you're unprofessional. -Amy Farrah Fowler/The Big Bang Theory -7.50, -5.03

    by dawgflyer13 on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:38:15 AM PST

    •  I think it was a neighborhood teenager (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viral, marina, cosette, blueoasis

      It wasn't hard to know I was gone. My car is parked in plain sight when I'm here. I drove to Chicago, so it would be pretty obvious I was gone, even if I had lights on a timer (which I may do now).

      I say teenager, because of the size of the window they entered through.

      Unfortunately, I have to let people know when I'm away. I'm a landlord and I have to tell my tenants not to drop off rent checks when I'm gone.

      As for getting a dog -- when I'm away on a trip, he has to go to my brother's. I agree about a dog being good security. I've had one or more for decades. :-)

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:43:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you decide to get an alarm (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elsaf

        avoid ADT like the plague- they are the best known name, but far from the best- and it is a high pressure sales job.  Go with a local mom and pop company- it may cost a little more, but you will reap the rewards in service and satisfaction.

        You can get animals addicted to a harmful substance, you can dissect their brains, but you throw their own feces back at them, and suddenly you're unprofessional. -Amy Farrah Fowler/The Big Bang Theory -7.50, -5.03

        by dawgflyer13 on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:47:57 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  "May do now"??? I never leave (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe

        my house at night (even for 5 minutes) without leaving at least one light on.  OK, I live in Oakland (CA), but I've had that practice everywhere I've lived.  It's a small price to pay to persuade someone casing dark houses at night that someone is home.

        I'd also recommend strongly calling police and filing a report.  You are likely not the only or first person burgled, especially if it was as you suspect a neighborhood teen... there may be a pattern of what he took, and police who have a patterned repeat perp may do more to solve it... checking pawn shops, etc.

        Also, not ensuring all windows are locked at all times kinda defines you as a bit naive about the times we're living in... if I may say so....  

        Also... do you know all your tenants well enough to trust them not to tell someone that you're going away?  That may be a stretch... but if you've been burgled once, it's highly likely the successful perp may try an encore.  An antique silver service is a pretty good score for a burglar.  I'd also take a photo of the spoon left behind and circulate it among whatever pawn shops may be in your city or area, and give a copy to the officer if you decide to make a report.

        Just my 2 cents...

        "There's always room for cello." Yo Yo Ma

        by ceebee7 on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 01:37:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  ^^^This^^^ (0+ / 0-)

          Emphatically this.

          You are likely not the only or first person burgled, especially if it was as you suspect a neighborhood teen... there may be a pattern of what he took, and police who have a patterned repeat perp may do more to solve it
          Even if you think they won't get too excited about the information, doubt they'll catch the perp, or doubt you'll ever see your stuff again - your report is a piece in a jig saw puzzle. If I were your neighbor I'd be pissed if I knew you had a puzzle piece, and hoarded it; because it might have been the piece that prevented this (these) guy(s) from doing it again - at my house.

          “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

          by Catte Nappe on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 03:06:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  This happened to me twice within a year (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, viral, ceebee7

    It sucks.  I know exactly what you are going through....

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:39:59 AM PST

  •  Two consoling thoughts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, Chinton, BachFan

    1) ALL things are temporary. I am sorry for your loss; you will be fine.

    2) Finish up securing the house... and get away from it for a weekend.

    The thieves took your stuff. Don't give them your emotions.

    Suddenly, it dawns on me, Earnest T. Bass is the intellectual and philosophical inspiration of the TeaParty.

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:40:42 AM PST

  •  Have the best day you can. (6+ / 0-)

    Go through the house carefully and file a police report. You never know.

    Keep an eye on craigslist and ebay for the laptop and silver. Cruise the local pawnshops and leave a copy of that pic. No one could miss seeing that pattern.

  •  Take some time for yourself and be gentle. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, viral, marina, Dem Beans, PinHole, BachFan

    It is hard to be violated and you were! Do something nice and relaxing for yourself and if you need to call a friend to stay the night, do it. Even if it just for the peace of mind.
    Please fill out the police report, as Radiowalla said, even if it is more for the nice neighbor who shoveled the snow, the burglars tend to come back when they think you have replaced the items stolen and if it happened to you it could happen to others. Maybe consider starting a neighborhood watch even if it is more of a meet and greet or block party.
    Just a couple of thoughts.
    Take care of yourself!!!
    Peace and Blessings!

    For those abused, war torn and blood-soaked regions of the world: due to our apathy, our need for cheap shit, and our wars on terror and drugs, we apologize for the inconvenience.

    by Penny GC on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:46:46 AM PST

  •  Sorry to hear that. (9+ / 0-)

    In my experience (one home invasion) the worst part is the feeling of insecurity that lingers afterwards (I barely had anything worth stealing, and the burglar didn't want a fight, thankfully.)

    If you had any kind of serial number for the laptop, you might want to give that to the police.  Many burglars don't think through the process of fencing their stolen goods very well, and get caught when the pawn shop or other buyer reports them, and the serial number ties them to the burglary.

    I had a friend's break-in end up being solved that way.  Burglarized by two 17-year-old girls, it turned out.

  •  Make a police report . (8+ / 0-)

    If the thief is caught and he / she has stuff , they might be able to return some of the stuff to you .

    I was asked to go to a pawn shop to check out a box of cameras , my friend wanted me to tell him if it needed repairs / how much etc . When we were done at the pawn shop I called another friend and asked if he had lost some equipment , he said he had , so I told him his equipment was at the pawn shop . He went down there to get it back , he was smart and took a cop with him . The pawn shop owner said she didn't have the cameras and lens . My friend called me and handed the phone to the cop , I told him where she put away the box after we were done looking at it .

    A very long time ago , while I was out surfing , someone got into the trunk of my car and stool my bag of cameras , I was so pissed I could not think right , I almost crashed my car .
    It worked out great in the end , my old equipment was replaced with brand new equipment .

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:49:53 AM PST

  •  I don't want to make light of your problem (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, Dem Beans, BachFan, Chun Yang

    but our house was burglarized when I was about 10 or 11. My mother and I discovered it coming home together from work and school. As she was taking stock of the whole scene, she noticed that my stepdad's old file cabinet had been ransacked, contents scattered.

    Which led to her completely losing her s***, because the contents included all the nude photos of women that Dad went to college with, many of whom were still acquaintances. That conversation that ensued was almost as bad as the burglary itself.

    I'm hoping that this sort of dark humor distracts and amuses you.

    Fingers crossed that this gets resolved for you as soon as possible.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:58:46 AM PST

  •  I'm so sorry for your loss (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, elsaf, viral, PinHole, BachFan, Catte Nappe

    I know it isn't so much losing things (although the laptop could have been a critical loss, given the passwords) but the fact that someone was going through your personal items.  

    Maybe a couple of suggestions.  First, if you don't want to invest in a security system you might look in eBay for an ADT sign for your front lawn.  Any deterrent is good.  A potential thief might well see the sign and move on. Window stickers are also good.

    On the next trip, perhaps put timers on your lights.

    I live in an urban area where there are occasional burglaries in my neighborhood.  I installed this security system and stuck a sign in my yard and security stickers on my windows.  I also have dogs, which are possibly the best deterrent, but of course on a multiple-day trip my dogs wouldn't be left home alone.   I like this particular system because if an alarm is tripped I have it programmed to call my cell phone, and I can actually listen in on my phone to any activity going on in the house if it alarms, such as someone rummaging through stuff.  Or I can program it to call the police.  I've had it for about six months and it's worked flawlessly - I test it monthly.  For a small investment it gives me peace of mind and I don't pay monthly fees for it.

    Agree that it's best not to report it to your homeowner's insurance - they'll either jack your rates or cancel you.  

    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." - John F. Kennedy

    by Dem Beans on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 09:05:17 AM PST

    •  Thanks! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dem Beans, BachFan, blueoasis

      That looks like what I need. Nothing monitored, because I'm a clutz and I'm sure I'll be setting it off over and over. But if I have it phone me, I can phone the police if it's for real.

      Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

      by elsaf on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 09:44:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  So far I like it. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elsaf, Catte Nappe

        The remotes have a panic button, which I like - if someone is trying to kick in a door when you're home you can set off the alarm without waiting for a thief to gain access to your house.

        The double-sided tape isn't all that strong - I put a strip of gorilla tape over them to fasten the various door and window alarms securely.  And I keep extra batteries for them.

        Good luck!

        If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." - John F. Kennedy

        by Dem Beans on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 09:49:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Great suggestion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dem Beans

      I like that idea much better than a monitoring service.

      “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

      by Catte Nappe on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 02:58:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Burglars are so low (6+ / 0-)

    I've been burgled 3 times, and they always got the same things-my guitars. (and other stuff too, but geez!)

    Most of my life, music has either been my income, or augmented it. They stole the tools of my trade, some of which felt like old friends. So, the taking of treasured family stuff, which will never bring them close to what that loss means to you, is the unkindest cut.

    My suggestions include good deadbolts, some kind of window protection, (even a single bar that makes entry difficult) and good neighbors. But there are no guarantees. I hope you can move on, but boy it does piss you off, doesn't it?

  •  Please report this break-in to police (9+ / 0-)

    You may not have your things returned, but it will alert the police and your neighbors to keep an eye out and maybe even solve the crime. It's also a way to take back control and diminish the fear of further violation.

  •  I hope your cops are more interested than mine. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, Dem Beans, blueoasis

    I was burglarized once while renting a house in college, and had someone break in but be scared off by the dogs on another occasion in my current home.

    In both instances, the cops basically came out to make a record of the incident, then tell me 'be careful to lock up' and simply leave.  No attempts were made to do anything more.

  •  It happened to me, too (8+ / 0-)

    And, just like now from reading the comments, I had the same responses.

    My son called me at work to tell me the door had been kicked in.  He was a smart 17 year old- went right to the neighbors- called 911 then me.

    The house was trashed.  Not much of value was stolen (ha- we don't have 'valuables') but even the freezer was emptied.   That feeling of being violated stayed with me for months.

    But back at work, all I heard was..."When I was robbed"..."When that happened to me"..."My house was robbed"...

    Like I now belong to a selective club.

    The police were of no help.  They filled out the report- dusted for prints and basically told us it was probably kids who were in and out in less than ten minutes.

    "Well, if you catch them, bring them back here so they can clean up this mess."  was what I told them.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 09:33:16 AM PST

  •  Dedicate a closet in your house to storage of... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem Beans, elsaf, BachFan, Chun Yang

    ...valuables and have a deadbolt keyed lock installed.  Slip your laptop into that closet when you leave.

  •  a year ago for our break-in (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bread, blueoasis, chimene

    Middle of the day, and I drove up from errands to find a strange care in my rural driveway. The guy said he was looking for yard work, and I did not have any but spoke to him a few minutes. Came inside, found double doors to the back screened porch kicked in. Called police at once with a good description and two of three guys were caught.(Neighbor down the hill saw two guys run away through woods). Similar to yours, computers, money and small electronics were taken, plus pillowcases. We had no jewelry or silver(my mom had family silver taken years ago and my heirlooms are in safe deposit box). We recovered all but some cash that I think was in the pocket of the third burglar.
    One pled guilty soon and paid some restitution to fix the doors. One pled a few months ago and got house probation to take care of his small son and disabled mother after I demanded an apology in open court. The third was arrested on other charges and the first one has since re-offended, breaking into a home when people were there.
    I was glad I did not have a gun - I stayed calm and polite and unthreatening, which allowed me to give the police the chance to catch these stupid young guys. I found some forgiveness for the one who apologized. We fixed our broken alarm, and now when we leave the house, we stick our laptops in some odd place - cabinets, etc. These guys went through my underwear drawer,etc. looking for valuables and instead of feeling violated, I chose to feel how pathetic they were. In court I told the guy - who lives down the road from me - that I would have helped him if he needed it, I only wanted to be a good neighbor and for him to do the same. It is hard, but better to heal. People are dumb, at at 19 or 20, do dumb things.

    The words of House Republican: We do not care.

    by Chun Yang on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 02:11:12 PM PST

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