Renting an apartment by myself during my senior year of college wasn't all I thought it would be. My neighbors were complete strangers. When a guy slipping out of the apartment door across from mine looked at me funny, my gut told me something wasn't right. Then, there was this odd feeling I'd get that someone had been in my apartment while I was gone.
Seeing as this was my first time living alone, I brushed aside those feelings as being normal nervousness. In retrospect, it was probably my intuition telling me something wasn't right. Though, at the time, I really thought it was somewhat normal to feel uneasy when living on your own for the first time.
One night, I came home late from studying at a friend's place. As I entered through the rear of the apartment building, I thought I saw my door cracked open. I quickly walked down the length of the hall and up to the door, but as I got closer, the door was now closed. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. I tried to open the door, but it was locked. I must be really tired, I thought, because I was sure the door had been open a few seconds ago.
I unlocked the door and began to push it open, but after just a couple of inches, the chain stopped the door from opening any farther.
I freaked out. I started banging on the door, telling whoever was in my apartment to open the door because it was my apartment.
Finally, surprisingly, the intruder opened the door and just stood there. I asked him what he was doing in my apartment. He claimed he'd lived there the year before, and he was just using the bathroom — as if breaking and entering into your old apartment is somehow OK. I made sure he knew it was not OK.
I tried calling 911, but the call kept dropping. After multiple attempts to no avail — all while stopping this guy from trying to walk past me out of the apartment — I successfully called campus security. They came right away and called the police for me.
When campus security arrived, I had to let them into the building. He wasn't trying to get past me anymore — he just stood in my doorway. I think he knew he had no chance of escaping.
When the police arrived, they wanted to know what the intruder took. I told the police I wasn't missing anything. We stood in my tiny bathroom, looking at my shower stall, trying to figure out if he'd stolen anything. I looked around and didn't notice anything missing. I didn't think to check my laundry basket.
As I scanned my apartment, the police kept the intruder handcuffed outside of my door. They wanted to know if I had seen him before.
That's when I realized it was the same guy I'd seen coming out of my neighbor's apartment. I remember he seemed a little weird at the time, but I thought he might have been one of the occupants.
We eventually figured out that he hadn't needed to "break" into my apartment, as he had keys that opened my door — and every other door in the building. I'm not sure if they tried the other doors in the apartment complex or if the guy came clean and told the police that he had gotten his hands on the master key.
It turns out I had caught a burglar with a panty fetish, and he had stolen the building's master key. He thought he would get away with it, and he apparently had for quite some time. He had probably been gallivanting throughout my apartment, and other apartments in the building, whenever he felt like it.
After the police left, they called to tell me that my intruder had baggies of ladies' panties in his apartment, as well as child pornography on his computer. The panties were labeled by apartment number. I checked my dirty laundry and found a handful of panties at the top of the laundry basket.
I can only assume I caught the intruder as he was on his way out of my apartment. He must have seen or heard me coming and locked the door to give himself the opportunity to throw my panties back into the laundry basket. It was pure luck that I arrived home when I did and was able to stop him from leaving my apartment — and that he didn't have a weapon.
I was asked to go to the police station to meet with victim services. They described the criminal process to me and discussed protective services such as restraining orders. I never had to actually appear in court; I think they had so much evidence against him that they didn't need me to testify. However, I did have to live near him until he went to trial. I remember being a little paranoid that he would come after me. I felt a lot better once the whole ordeal was over.
I was fortunate to have been taking a social welfare and justice class specializing in the topic of sex offenders at the time. It helped me to really process the events that had taken place. In the end, I didn't get very much information about the outcome of his case other than that he got deported. It's a little comforting to know that he is out of the country; I hope it stays that way, and I hope he doesn't have the opportunity to keep doing this to other women, wherever he may end up.