ELKHART — Life has changed a lot for Marisa Haitsma and her grandmother, Rachael Garrett, since their home was burglarized in July.
Haitsma, 21, walks around locking doors at home. One time, she even locked her mother out of the house. She carries pepper spray and is more cautious about giving out private information, even preferring to write down her phone number instead of saying it out loud.
Garrett texts her granddaughter more. They look out for each other.
Their dog, Daisy, is different too. Daisy was in the house when it was broken into. She flinched for a month after the burglary whenever someone reached out to her and she is wary of strangers.
Whoever broke into their home stole nearly everything of value, including jewelry given to Garrett by her late husband. The entire house, including the bathrooms, had been ransacked.
“It was an invasion of privacy,” Haitsma said. “The worst part was knowing they were in our house. People just walk into other people's houses and think they can take stuff. It's sickening.”
Garrett agreed. She has lived in the house for more than 40 years. This had never happened before.
“Our routine was disturbed,” Garrett said.
Though insurance helped replace many of the stolen items, only time is able to give Haitsma and Garrett back the safety and security they once felt.
Four months later, they are still cautious and occasionally nervous.
But they're also grateful for the kind and patient police officers who helped them go through their home to find what had been stolen. They're grateful for their neighbors, who looked out for them before and look out for them even more now. After hearing about the burglary, one neighbor immediately came over with a laptop so that the two women could change passwords and protect their online information. Their insurance company and bank were helpful, too.
And most of all, they're grateful for each other.
“At least we're safe. Daisy is safe. The house wasn't destroyed,” Haitsma said. “It makes you realize what you have.”
On Thursday, they celebrated Thanksgiving in “The House,” as their family calls it, with a few family members. They enjoyed dinner together, played games and celebrated what matters most to them.
“We're still alive,” Haitsma said. “We're especially thankful we're all here.”