Photo by Matthias Leitner

Matthias Leitner, Vienna

MARCH 9 BREAKING AND ENTERING

March 9 was quite special this year because I was dealing with the aftermath of a break-in at my flat from a few days earlier. Who would have thought that after almost 20 years spent in fragile countries and many dodgy places overseas without so much as pockets picked or a scratch to my frame, someone would come to rob me in the middle of urban Europe? And that is exactly what happened on a weekday between lunch and 3pm.

Walking up to my third-floor place in Vienna’s 9th District (mind you not a grand building that would attract thieves), I saw that the entrance door had been forced open and wood splinters were all around- what a mess, I was so furious! Inside, nothing much was to my great relief damaged but a few valuable things were missing, including two rings (which I do collect, especially antique ones) and a big expensive watch. The burglars had enough time to take only the valuables and lifted lids on every small box hoping to find more. Evidently not enough time to search everything and then vandalize the place when they found too little, since my laptop was still sitting in its case and my camera was also untouched. It must have happened in minutes then, a quick job perhaps after observation for some period of time.

The neighbors had not heard anything and the police came quickly, checked and dusted for their records and made me fill out paperwork. Yet they were not optimistic some of the loot could be recovered. Apparently, some gangs in Vienna are very professional in this break-in business and rarely get caught. It was not so much the intrusion into personal space that bothered me but all the hassle fixing things, beginning with the front door. Since burglars might return, I had to call the repairman, notify building management and insurance. Filed a report also with my employer, which is an international organization, and they require that – it was almost more stressful than checking on my possessions.

On the weekend I also immediately went to the “Naschmarkt” flea market in Vienna just to look around if any of my items might already be on sale there. Nothing was found of course but still it turned out to be an inspiring little visit after so much stress. Traveler, if you come to live in Vienna, remember to buy a good lock for your front door! And if anyone finds an Anonimo Firenze brass case watch for sale very very cheap, hey do contact me because it might be the one I’m missing.

Photo: Matthias Leitner