The Best Way to Have Your House Cleaned Out By an Intruder

Having your home broken into is a terrible experience. Beyond the measurable losses — the smashed windows, stolen items, etc. — there’s a hard to measure but very real emotional toll taken as well. One’s home is supposed to be a safe place, and when a burglar breaks in, the criminal is also shattering that belief. 

In May of 2019, Nate Roman, then a 44-year-old living outside of Boston, had the unfortunate luck to experience this type of violation first-hand. As the Boston Globe reported, when Roman “came home from work on May 15, he could tell that a stranger had been in his house.” The door was ajar and the house smelled of chemicals. Roman, understandably, called the police. And then he went inside his house to take stock of the loss he had just incurred. 

What he saw — and posted to Facebook — was this.

That’s a rose made out of toilet paper. It’s not something burglars typically take the time to make as they ransack a house, to say the least. And it wasn’t alone; throughout the house, Roman found other such curiosities. For example, as CNN reported, [Roman] “discovered his son’s room, which was a wreck when they left that morning, was neat as a pin. He found his room in the same pristine condition.” And while it would be weird for thieves to clean up after themselves, Roman made one major discovery which made the whole thing even weirder: all of his stuff was still there. The people who broke into his house didn’t actually steal anything.

Despite the fact that Roman’s home was broken into by, seemingly, the nicest criminals on the planet, the entire incident was nevertheless unsettling. Entering into someone’s home uninvited — that’s reason enough to take the matter seriously. And the police did just that. As Roman and his family waited outside, the police did a complete sweep of the premises to make sure there were no dangers. They interviewed neighbors to see if anyone witnessed the break-in, or anything else suspicious. And they checked to see if any other houses in the area had break-jns that day. Everything came up negative — the house was safe, no one saw anything out of the ordinary, and no other houses were burgled.

Police had no suspects and the “crime” remains unsolved to date. But Roman had a theory. Per USA Today, “he may have left his back door unlocked. He thinks perhaps a housekeeping service went to his home by mistake.” 

Bonus fact: The crime of “breaking and entering” doesn’t require that the criminal smash a window or break a lock. Per one legal dictionary, “breaking and entering” is “the criminal act of entering a residence or other enclosed property through the slightest amount of force (even pushing open a door), without authorization.” The word “breaking” typically simply means to create an opening for yourself, even if you did nothing but open a door — you’re breaking the seal around the home, in a sense. Climbing through an already-open window (or, more likely, walking through an already open door) doesn’t traditionally meet this definition, but you’re better off not putting that to the test.

From the Archives: Special Agent Grimsley: The best burglary ever pulled by a baseball player.