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An open letter to the man who robbed me

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Dear Burglar:

I hope this letter finds you unwell. I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in the actions that you have taken by recently breaking into my home.

I have lived in my wonderful Charlotte community for five years. My neighbors and I are good, hardworking people who actually like each other and look out for one another. For five years, our small neighborhood of 71 homes has pretty much gone without incident. The most that we complained about was picking up after the dogs — that is, until you arrived.

Remarkably after your arrival, break-ins started happening. You remember when you moved into our neighborhood and we welcomed you with open arms? Although I found it peculiar that a man of your age would be moving into a neighborhood full of young, vibrant people, I reserved judgment because it was none of my business ... until the burglaries started.

Young black boys who once waved and smiled brightly and called me "Miss Nsenga" or "Miss B" gave way to young black boys who barely spoke or made eye contact. I didn't recognize these teens, and I wondered from where they had come. I also wondered where my sweet and mannerable boys had gone.

I was sad to learn that my sweet and mannerable boys were inside, trying to stay away from you. Apparently, you were trying to either sell them drugs or involve them in a burglary ring. You didn't think they would tell us and we would tell the police? We did. While you've been monitoring our comings and goings, we've been watching you, too.

Just as the smiles and waves gave way to something else, so did your family's pleasant personality.

The homeowner who welcomed you into the area barely comes around anymore — and when she does, she does not make eye contact with us. Why? Because she knows what you are doing, which is embarrassing and shameful, but loves you too much to put you out or to turn you into the police; you'd end up in jail – which is where you belong.

What sickens me more than you thinking you can come in my house, steal my stuff and go back to living peacefully in this neighborhood is the fact that you have exposed these young black boys to your poison.

You are a toxic individual who slowly but surely poisons the very community that welcomes you. Instead of mentoring these young boys, you are such a pathetic individual that you have them breaking into houses for you ... instead of being man enough to do it yourself. What's the matter? Does the three-strikes law have you scared? You take boys who need fathers, guidance, love and respect, and turn them into vile, soulless creatures like you.

When I learned of the break-in, I called my father, who drove down with me to see the damage. I had just left to celebrate my grandfather's 90th birthday the day before. When I called my dad at 4 a.m., his only comment was, "What time do you want to go?" I said "now," and he was on his way. It was not lost on me when we arrived that I had a father who wanted to protect me and keep me from harm to such an extent that he dropped everything and came to help me.

I bet if you're someone's father, they are ashamed of you. Why would they love someone who puts him or her in harm's way because of the lifestyle you live? You have exposed him or her to possible arrest, jail or revenge by neighbors who may not have as much self-control as me. How you look in the mirror or sleep at night, I don't know.

I'm the eighth break-in and your last.

I am working with neighbors and police to take back our neighborhood. We want our peace of mind and safety back.

We will get it. C

Sincerely,

Nsenga K. Burton

Your pissed-off neighbor/nemesis

Editor's Note: As of press time, one arrest has reportedly been made in conjunction with this crime. We hope Nsenga and her neighbors see a speedy return and repair of their formerly safe community.

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