I felt safe. I was living on the 15th floor of a high rise condominium on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. There was a desk in the lobby with two attendants plus several security guards on duty 24/7.
It was a Monday morning, and I had enjoyed a restful night. I was just about to step in the shower when I realized I needed something from my purse, which was in the living room on a chair by the front door.
But something wasn’t right. My wallet was in an upside down position, and when I picked it up, I noticed right away that my money was missing. But how? Who could have taken it? When could it have happened? Did someone come into the condo and help themselves to my wallet? If so, it had to have happened after I got home Sunday night.
My eyes went to the front door. Deadbolt chain lock in place. So no one entered through the front door. My eyes went to the sliding glass doors. All open as usual; after all, I am on the 15th floor for heaven’s sake.
My mother would sometimes spend Saturday night at the condo; it was her second home, and she was allowing me to live there while I was finishing school. I walked down the hall to check her bedroom. The door was closed. Oh my God was someone in her room? If anyone came through the sliding glass door and went through my purse, could they still be in there behind the closed door?
I wanted to run from the apartment, but I wasn’t dressed. I wanted to call down to the switchboard with the house phone and tell someone about it, but I was afraid if “he” was still there, “he” would hear me and try to shut me up.
My heart was racing. But instead of doing what anyone else would do in this situation — run — I got in the shower and thought about the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Psycho.” And after drying off and getting dressed, I took the elevator down to the lobby to tell someone my story.
As it turned out, it wasn’t just my unit. Mine was 1508. George Englund, Cloris Leachman’s ex husband, lived in 1408 and was burglarized, too. And so was 1308 and 1208. Four units all in a row. But how?
A cat burglar.
He had taken the elevator up to the penthouse and swung his rope over the side of the building, climbed down and entered every open sliding door. George Englund’s wallet was turned upside down, too, but his was on his bedside table. The cat burglar was standing right over him while he was sleeping!
Two weeks later there was an article in the Los Angeles Times. The cat burglar had been caught. But not until he raped a woman in front of her husband and then murdered them both. It happened on Ocean Avenue just two blocks from our condo. I might have been lucky because my purse was in the living room, but perhaps he creeped into my bedroom, too. I often wonder.
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