THIEVES READ. The older ones, especially, the ones who have learned the tricks. Sometimes they get their ideas from newspapers. They read obituaries and funeral notices to learn when the homes of mourners are empty and vulnerable to burglary. They read classifieds that tell of open houses, garage sales and yard sales, which give those less skilled at burglary (or too old to climb through windows) opportunity for deception and theft.
Thieves read. The ones who had a notion to go to Laura Rosenberg's moving sale probably got it from reading the ad she'd placed in this newspaper two weeks ago.
Here's a notion: Return Laura Rosenberg's rings.
If you're the one who pilfered them during a yard sale at her house in Perry Hall on Sept. 11, do the right thing and return them. Give back, sir, to the community from which you've taken so much.
The thief couldn't have known the emotional value of what he took from Laura -- and I'm sure he didn't care at the time -- but if there's any chance he has a conscience, any chance he has a heart, maybe he could bring himself to slip the goods in an envelope and leave them in Laura's mailbox on Hines Leigh Court.
Crazy, I know. But I thought it was worth asking. Here's why.
When Laura held that sale on her front lawn it was in preparation for a move from the house she had shared with her husband.
"A house that held very sad memories," is how Genny Clarke, Laura's mother, describes it.
Laura's husband, Michael Rosenberg, owned Mr. Carpets on Pulaski Highway and Ritchie Highway.
They met in the 1980s. They dated for six years. He asked her to marry him one night at the Inner Harbor. He gave her a ring on the brick promenade after dinner at Phillip's. They were married in 1991. They lived in the house on Hines Leigh with Laura's teen-age son, Robert.
One day in 1995, after shooting hoops at a family gathering, Michael Rosenberg had a heart attack and died. He was only 33.
"We're moving to something smaller," Laura said the other day, explaining why she had the yard sale.
In addition to the items she offered for sale outside, there were a few indoors.
"I had some items in the basement for sale -- a living room set. And these two elderly ladies and this couple -- I guess they were a husband and wife in their late 50s -- came inside to look at it. I went with them."
The two women looked at the furniture briefly, then left. The couple stayed a little longer, then Laura escorted them outside, through the kitchen/family room.
The woman, who was heavyset with gray hair and wearing a white top, made small talk on the way out of the house. The man, who was bald with a gray mustache, followed them.
"I was outside the house and looked back for a moment and saw him by the kitchen counter, where I'd left a jewelry box," Laura says. "I had left it there because, that morning, I'd gone through it and pulled out some costume jewelry to sell at the yard sale. I told him, 'There's nothing there for sale,' and he said, 'Sorry,' then walked out of the house. I didn't see his hand in the box or anything. I didn't think much of it until later. The man and his wife went outside and they looked around the yard sale. They even bought something before they left -- a book."
She discovered the rings missing in the early afternoon and called Baltimore County police.
Her 1980 class ring from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, replaced some years ago by her parents after the original disappeared, was gone.
So was the engagement ring Michael had given her.
So was her wedding band.
She's certain the man with the mustache took the rings. He was the only one near the jewelry box all day. Laura escorted one other party into the house to see the living room set -- a couple with two children -- and they were never out of her sight.
I have friends who always say: "There's a reason things happen. There's a reason for everything."
I have friends who would say those rings were meant to be taken. Laura Rosenberg is moving on with her life. Maybe it's not such a terrible thing that the rings from her years with Michael were stolen.
But that's not how Laura sees it, and she's the one who counts here. "I had given away a lot of his things," she says. "And I decided just to keep a few things to remember him by, an album, some notes he had written me." And the rings.
They got their notion to go to Laura's house from reading this newspaper.
Maybe they'll get a notion to go back there. With the rings. Put them in an envelope. Leave them in the mailbox.
Crazy, I know. But I thought I'd ask.
Wrong place, wrong time
End note on Floyd from Cereal Mom: "Just as the big storm was barreling toward the Eastern Seaboard, and we were all getting anxious about it, the phone rang in my house. It was one of those telemarketers trying to sell -- get this -- a time share on a property in Myrtle Beach. Even as the hurricane threatened to wipe the place out. I said, 'No thanks,' and hung up."
TJIDAN@aol.com is the e-mail address for Dan Rodricks. Letters may be mailed to TJI, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Dan's column next appears Sept. 27.
Pub Date: 09/20/99