I grabbed the phone, corralled my kids into a bedroom, locked the door and told them to crawl under the bed as I called the police. We had just walked into our house in Cape Town one morning to find a broken window, a large rock wedged against our back door — and a burglar in our backyard.

Did he know we were home? Could he see me through the lace window coverings? Was he armed? What would he do when the police arrived?

My heart thumped against my rib cage as I explained the situation to the dispatcher, doing my level best to remain as calm as possible, mostly for the sake of my kids.

By the time the police arrived, the burglar had broken into a granny flat on our rental property and hid in a shower for four hours, only to escape scot-free after the police searched the premises, wrote an incident report, and left.

The broken window in our living room couldn’t be repaired that day, so we went to bed that night with wind howling through the house. Every small noise in the darkness caused my heart to skip a beat.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get my pulse to slow down.


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