My 4 year old has therapy on Friday afternoons in an office that is in a converted house. Several independent therapists share the space. The parking lot is in the driveway and the front door has a little blue-and-white sticker that says "Protected by ADT." Until today, I never saw the sticker.
As usual, I pulled into the driveway, which was empty except for my SUV. That's pretty normal. We are often the only ones there, and the most traffic we've ever seen there at one time was 3 cars. I lugged the 2 year old and the baby I watch, along with my purse and bag with my Maternal-Newborn Nursing textbook and laptop out of the car and in through the door, the 4 yr old eagerly leading the way. The door is always unlocked. For once, the boys didn't fling the door open, further deepening the doorknob dent in the entry wall. Dmitri (the 4 yr old) was very proud of himself, and told me all about how he was going to show his "fehrpis" (therapist) his super-fast new shoes.
The office has lots of natural light, especially in the waiting/play area. I took off the boys' coats and let them go play, then started settling in. The usual Disney movie soundtrack was playing from the speakers. I was vaguely aware of a beeping that had been repeating about every 3 seconds or so, but payed little attention to it. Everything beeps nowadays!
It was about then that I noticed that a light in the further hallway near the therapist's office was off. It was usually on. Odd... maybe she's not here yet. I'm almost catching on at this point... Wait for it... Wait for it... Oh wait! She's in FLORIDA this week! We don't even have an appointment. How embarassing... Boy, that lady in the office there must think we're nuts, showing up... when... Wait, no one is in that office. Are we alone here?
Just then, the beeping changed to every second, rather than every 3 seconds. Things started to add up. (Slow, I know...) Maybe we ought to leave sooner than later. Yeah, good thought. So I told the boys, "Guess what! Lydia isn't here! Mommy forgot! So, we're going to go to the library instead. How about that?" My boy, who has sensory processing disorder and ADHD, doesn't take kindly to changes in his expectations. It takes him a while to shift gears. We, however, didn't have that kind of time. I was putting their coats back on and trying to explain why Lydia wasn't coming to see him when the beeping changed into a full-on alarm. The two boys were panicked. I tried to be calm as I hurried them out of the door.
I decided, once we were outside and it was quieter, that it would be a good idea to be caught at the scene and explain the mix-up to the police than to be met with an arrest warrant in a month and have it fuss-up our adoption process. So, I slowly, slowly, got the kids into the car, talking the boys calm again and explaining what was happening. Dmitri was very upset that Lydia wouldn't see his shoes. She would be the very last to see them. We waited a few minutes, and no one was showing up, so I figured it was safe to leave and send our therapist an email, telling her about us showing up by accident and mentioning that a security alarm does little good when your doors are wide open. Dmitri decided that he could get a book at the library about shoes. We left.
My feelings of being embarrassed by this were short lived, because the more I thought about what had happened, the less the whole set-up made sense. Why would the doors be unlocked when no one is there? People's office doors were open. Toys, computers, TVs, therapy equipment, files, all unprotected! I can understand the internal openness IF there are external protections (ie- locked doors and security system), and I can almost accept leaving the front door open IF all internal office doors are locked, electronics are secured, and nothing of value is accessible. No... even then. LOCK THE DOORS, people!!!
My parents live in a high-end neighborhood that is regularly cased and break-ins are not uncommon. Several years ago, they got an APX Security System (now Vivent). It sounds like it operates much the same, with sensors on doors, a warning period for you to disarm the alarm system, then it does its thing. BUT - as part of their service, Vivent requires - as I assume ADT would as well - that you lock the external doors when the alarm is engaged.
So now, I'm home, torn between hoping that the police just never paid any attention to the call and that I won't be trying to explain my later arrest to the Chinese Consulate and on the other side hoping that calls and alarms like that are not routinely ignored. What would be the point, then?
In the mean time, my 4 yr old is still a little freaked out. When our bread machine's dough cycle finished this evening and beeped, Dmitri came running from the other end of the house, yelling, "The beeping thinks that we're bad guys again!!!" He doesn't like anything that beeps now. And as I said before, EVERYTHING BEEPS THESE DAYS! So I hope he'll be over it in a few days.
I sent off an email to Dmitri's therapist, who, in spite of being on vacation, answered my email in less than an hour. From her response, it sounds like this was an unusual incident, that things are not normally left open, and I do hope so. I really do hope so.