Theres a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
October 19, 2006 1:55 PM   Subscribe

A member of my family has been entering my house in my absence when it has been particularly impressed upon that person that it is specifically against my wishes.

1. I'm pretty choked and pissed off. Do I have the right to be?

2. How do I deal with this? I generally like this person (who doesn't have problems?), plus they are family. I don't want to ruin my relationship with them. I've always been a bit of a "yes" man when it comes to family, but this a bit too much I think.
posted by aeighty to Human Relations (40 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
1. yes

2. change the locks
posted by milarepa at 1:58 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


If you've expressed to this person that they are not to be in your house, and if they have no legal right to be there, simply tell them you will call the police next time...and, then...do it.

And encourage them to get some help, they either have a mental health problem or are dangerous.
posted by HuronBob at 2:00 PM on October 19, 2006



And encourage them to get some help, they either have a mental health problem or are dangerous.


I don't think that's true.
posted by Hildago at 2:04 PM on October 19, 2006


yeah, change the locks
posted by matteo at 2:04 PM on October 19, 2006


1. Yes.

2. Be really specific about how unhappy this makes you, impress upon them that you will do something about it if it isn't stopped, while still letting them know that you realise they don't mean any harm. It may not be a big deal to them, and they may not understand why it's a big deal to you.

My mum was really close with her mother - they had keys to each other's houses and would drop in all the time whether someone was there or not. I find the idea intrusive, which I think she doesn't understand - plus I've always lived with other people who had the right not to have my mother come sniffing around their home. If you live with someone else, you could use that as a good reason too.

How are they entering? Do they have a key? You could tell them that if it doesn't stop you'll have to change locks. And how do you know they're coming in - is stuff being moved, going missing?
posted by andraste at 2:04 PM on October 19, 2006


Water. Bucket. Above. Door.

"eeee-YAAAH!!!"
posted by kookoobirdz at 2:05 PM on October 19, 2006 [2 favorites]


You could tell them that if it doesn't stop you'll have to change locks.

If you do this then they may just be more careful about getting caught. You've already told them your wishes. Change the locks.

If you want to be more subtle, explain to them that you've decided to get a silent alarm system installed for home safety reasons, and that he/she shouldn't come in when you're gone anymore because it will summon the police. You can get a dummy control box to have on display if you need to. This is more passive, but will probably work.
posted by hermitosis at 2:14 PM on October 19, 2006


Response by poster: The locks have been changed. I've left my window open acidentally this time. I know my place has been visited - things out of place. Things missing. I can't be sure that this last one is due to my "visitor" so I won't persue it (I'm lazy and forgetful, could've been me). I finally set up a webcam yesterday, the video evidence is there. I realize that anyone can break in and steal things (there's not much to be stolen there to be perfectly honest). It's just this breach of trust and the fact that it's family that knows how I feel about my place that hurts.
posted by aeighty at 2:20 PM on October 19, 2006


This doesn't have to be traumatic. Just acknowledge your feelings and how uncomfortable this makes you, or even angry, and tell the person. Don't get into a fight, refuse to fight about it, it's your home and these are your wishes. Allow the person their own feelings of shock and whatever, but don't get all wrapped up in it. That's not caring for your family. You still love them, they can come over at these times when you're home etc, etc.
posted by scazza at 2:20 PM on October 19, 2006


My mum was really close with her mother - they had keys to each other's houses and would drop in all the time whether someone was there or not. I find the idea intrusive, which I think she doesn't understand - plus I've always lived with other people who had the right not to have my mother come sniffing around their home. If you live with someone else, you could use that as a good reason too.

I have the exact same conflict with my father. I love the guy, but the "why don't I have a key" argument went on for 10 years.

If this person has a key, find some reason to change the locks. As long as they have a key, they'll use it. When they ask for a new key, tell them that it's not necessary, since they can call you up and visit if they like. Use roommates as an excuse, politely but firmly tell them no, expect some guilt, and stand firm. (And then schedule some time with them, since they obviously need to feel like they are an important part of your life.)
posted by desuetude at 2:23 PM on October 19, 2006


What's their excuse? Do they simply not realise that it's an issue for you (or that it's a big issue for you)? Sort of "Oh, aeighty said they didn't want it but you know aeighty, laid back sort of fellow, won't mind really"? Or are they stupid? Or are they being deliberately annoying? Or are they being nasty?
posted by handee at 2:24 PM on October 19, 2006


Have you confirmed that this is a member of the family? Maybe you have a burglar?
posted by blue_beetle at 2:24 PM on October 19, 2006


On preview. They came in through a window!!

Uh, tell them that this crazy? Point out that they're lucky some well-meaning neighbor didn't call the cops. Ask them why the heck they need to be in your house so badly that they crawled through a window.
posted by desuetude at 2:25 PM on October 19, 2006


@ HuronBob
'And encourage them to get some help, they either have a mental health problem or are dangerous.'

I highly doubt this is the case. Read on to see why.

1. Having the right to be mad really depends on your family situation. For instance, in my family everyone has access to everyone else's house. Between my uncles, aunts, cousin and grandparents everyone either has a key/garage door opener/garage pass-code. It is not uncommon for someone to go to another's house to get something they need, or whatever the case may be. If you grew up in a family/household where the doors were always open to family then you really can't blame this person. To this person entering the house w/o permission is the norm. However, if this person is doing things/stealling things that you are not happy about then you have every right to be upset. But, this person may think that what they're doing is completely normal.

2. If you don't like this person entering when you're not there just tell them. 'I'm not comfortable with people in the house when I'm not here.' should suffice.

Bottom line is that each family has their own boundries in regards to comfort levels. Maybe it time to redefine your comfort boundries with this particular member of your family. I doubt in his head he is being malicious.
posted by ASM at 2:29 PM on October 19, 2006


Changing the locks isn't all that cheap, is it? And, if the person is using a key, I would assume that there's some reason why the person was given a key in the first place. So perhaps there's a need for a solution short of locking them out entirely. Is that the case?

Also, is the person aware that you know? Perhaps he or she is engaging in mild transgression -- doing something wrong, but believing that no one else knows it -- but can be shamed into stopping.

Whether or not they know you know, perhaps ask them whether, given the lack of agreement as to when the key should be used, it wouldn't be better if they just returned it.

Less confrontational tack: ask him or her for the key back, perhaps on the pretense that it is needed to give to someone else, or that it's the master.

Most fun tack: if you can predict when they will enter, stage an entertaining discovery for them that will shock them out of their gourd. Or, better yet, have someone else enter after them, driving them into a panic and, quite possibly, the closet. Do not do this last one if they are handy with weapons.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:29 PM on October 19, 2006


They came in through a window? That's unacceptable even in homes/families with the most casual open door policy. You have every right to be pissed off, and I'm not sure it's possible to redefine your comfort boundaries to make that okay.
posted by lalex at 2:32 PM on October 19, 2006


Coming in through an open window because the locks have been changed is way beyond acceptable. Can't this person take a hint? You need to drop the yes man persona confront them about this. Show them the video, tell them you are monitoring things and they need to show you some respect and knock it off.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:36 PM on October 19, 2006


Whoa. The person comes into your house while you're not there, despite your explicit orders not to? And they climbed in through the window? And you believe they took your property? And you have them on video in your place after you changed the locks?

That's gone way beyond a questions of personal boundries or hurt feelings, and veered into being a matter for the police. Your relative is way in the wrong. What reason do they give for continually entering your place? Or do they deny they've been doing anything?
posted by Gamblor at 2:38 PM on October 19, 2006


If you don't like this person entering when you're not there just tell them. 'I'm not comfortable with people in the house when I'm not here.' should suffice.

Well, obviously it didn't. And the locks have already been changed, so that's not the answer. It's a tough situation. I think all you can do is tell the person "I like you, but it's absolutely unacceptable for you to sneak into my place, and if it happens again I'm going to call the police, and don't try to bullshit me because I have proof you were there." (In appropriate language, of course.) And if they do it again, call the police.
posted by languagehat at 2:39 PM on October 19, 2006


Apologies -- missed the part about the windows. Can you confide in them that you have proof that "someone" has been entering your house, and that it's really got you worried, and that you have notified your neighbors and the police? You can add details about a sighting or fingerprint dusting as your conscience permits.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:45 PM on October 19, 2006


Lead the person to believe you're going out of town, then wait for them at home. When they come in, seems like you'd have the perfect opening for the confrontation you need to have.

Here's a tip: their first sentence is almost surely going to be, "Oh, I thought you were out of town!" To which you can reply, "Then why are you here?"
posted by chippie at 2:46 PM on October 19, 2006 [2 favorites]


Lead the person to believe you're going out of town, then wait for them at home. When they come in, seems like you'd have the perfect opening for the confrontation you need to have to shoot them with a gun.

Breaking and entering is not some quirk, this is serious. You could call them, tell them you have pictures of them breaking into your home, and ask them why you should not call the police. Or just cut out the middle man and call the cops.
posted by LarryC at 3:00 PM on October 19, 2006


Not only do I think you have the right to be pissed off, I think you have the right to be red-in-the-face furious. This is a gross violation of boundaries and privacy. My grandmother used to let herself in the house all the time when we were kids and it really pissed off my mom and dad (though I don't think they ever directly asked her to stop -- they just stewed about it), but at least she always came through the door.

Can you install an alarm system? Or even security locks on your windows so that they can't be opened more than a certain amount from outside?

But yeah, I'd tell them in no uncertain terms that you have proof they've come through the window, and you have instructed your neighbors to call the police if they see anyone breaking in.
posted by scody at 3:01 PM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh, also: consider that this may be a mental health issue and not just a complete boorish disregard for your boundaries (but if it is just the latter, the "the neighbors or I will call the cops if you ever do this again" is the way I'd end the conversation). But if this person is exhibiting other erratic behavior, memory problems, etc., I'd consider consulting with a mental health professional.
posted by scody at 3:08 PM on October 19, 2006


Final comment -- sorry to all for being so scattershot. It seems to me, on looking at your last comment, that the second and more difficult of your original questions -- how do I deal with this? -- isn't about the security aspect, or preventing it from happening again, but about how you deal with the person in question and your feelings about what he's done. So scaring them off, or waiting for them per chippie (and waiting, and waiting, and waiting . . .), isn't what this is about.

If that's right, it's hard to see much beyond these alternatives: (a) talking to them in non-confrontational matter about what they've done and how you feel about it; (b) talking to them in a non-specific way about the breaking and entering, in a way that leaves it unstated but inescapable that you have them in mind; (c) sending them a copy of the video without comment; (d) telling them how you feel, but without indicating you know it was them, but making it clear how upset you are (and how guilty they should feel); (e) go through an intermediary; (f) see if you can sell yourself on it being a limited transgression and letting time pass.

Personally, I wouldn't do (e) or (f), but it is very easy for others to tell you to call them on it.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:09 PM on October 19, 2006


I second the alarm system. And screw that silent thing. You want a really loud one that will make it unbearable to hang around your house, and that will still be on when you get home.
posted by smackfu at 3:21 PM on October 19, 2006


You need to talk to this person and address it head-on. A friend of mine went through a similar thing with a member of her family, and when she sat her relative down for The Talk, she started with "I'm really hurt that you don't respect me enough not to come into my home when I'm not here, when I've asked you not to." It can be hard to confront, but you've been trespassed upon, both literally and figuratively. You are in the right, and they are in the wrong- this is about you and your wishes. Whatever reasons or excuses they may give for entering when you are gone are irrelevant. Going against your stated wishes is fundamentally disrespectful of you, and you don't have to tolerate it.

Having the feeling that someone has been in your home when you weren't there is deeply creepy. Keep the video camera rolling, and get some safety latches for those windows.
posted by ambrosia at 3:26 PM on October 19, 2006


No offense, Clyde, but those are all pretty passive ways of dealing with a burglar, family or not. If this situation doesn't warrant a more confrontational approach, then what would?

Seems like there are two options:

1. Tell the person in no uncertain terms that you have video evidence of them breaking into your house, you won't tolerate it, and if you ever so much as suspect that he's been in your place again, he'll be explaining it to the judge.
2. Call the police.

The two aren't mutually exclusive; you can do one, either, or both.

aeighty, you say you've been a "yes" man where family is involved, but this is just horribly disrespectful. Don't let someone abuse you like this.
posted by Gamblor at 3:28 PM on October 19, 2006


Response by poster: Thanks for the comments all. The mental health thing is definitely out of the question. This is more of a blatant disregard of my wishes if anything. I'm very laid back and generally dont mind company in the least.. but mi casa et mi casa, I see no reason to share it with anyone and that's what I said. In the grand scheme of things it's not a big deal really. Not to sound too melodramatic, but it feels like my trust has been violated and so on.

I've pretty much said this on the phone a few minutes ago. I'll avoid the person for a bit and calm down now..
posted by aeighty at 3:30 PM on October 19, 2006


Just out of curiosity, aeighty, what was the person doing while they were at your place, anyways?
posted by Gamblor at 4:29 PM on October 19, 2006


And dude, they came in through a WINDOW. That is not normal, it's not "disregard" of your wishes, it's creepy as shit and illegal. WTF is wrong with them and what on earth do they need so badly in your house when you're not there??
posted by tristeza at 4:59 PM on October 19, 2006


What does this person say when you confront them about it?
posted by curie at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2006


I'm going to be a little different here and agree with everyone else, UNLESS this person is your biological or adopted son or daughter.

That is all.
posted by trevyn at 5:15 PM on October 19, 2006


What tristeza said: this goes far beyond a mere disregard for your wishes. You say you're "pretty laid back": my guess is that they read "pretty laid back" as "a doormat with some stuff they either won't miss or if they do miss it, well, fuck 'em, they're a doormat." They clearly have no respect for you or your property, and are going to keep pulling this kind of shit until you do something absolute to stop them. A phonecall will not even phase them. Get some solid security, alert your neighbours to call the cops if they see anyone trying to break in, and tell the rest of your family that this is happening -- if pressure from you won't stop it, maybe pressure from the rest of them will.
posted by Hogshead at 5:50 PM on October 19, 2006


Like I said WAY up there in the thread, and now that you've told us about the window...

call the police..
posted by HuronBob at 6:04 PM on October 19, 2006


What the fuck? Family member or not, this is a fucking burglar you're dealing with. Install a hidden security camera, get the evidence, and call the police. Jesus Christ. Let me them cool their heels in the back of a fucking black-and-white, dude.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:28 PM on October 19, 2006


Get a big unruly dog. They'll think twice next time if they have any brains at all.
posted by drstein at 6:47 PM on October 19, 2006


WHY are they entering your house? That's just really odd...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:05 PM on October 19, 2006


I agree with getting a LOUD alarm. That should take care of it - as long as you don't give him the passcode!
posted by Jujee at 9:08 PM on October 19, 2006


Ask neighbours to keep an eye on your house, and call the police if they see an intruder.
Tell the rest of your family that [your relative] has been breaking into your house and stealing things, and you are extremely upset about it.
Stop being so nice about it. You're being too nice. If you're certain this person doesn't have mental health issues, then they are deliberately taking advantage of you, they are seriously disrespecting you and the family, and they are continuing to do it because they are certain you will keep on being nice, instead of reacting appropriately. Stop letting them treat you like this. Its bad for you, and you're allowing them to act out inappropriate behaviour. This person needs to be stopped from thinkign that breaking & entering & burglary are appriate behaviours. I personally would call the police, but at least tell your family and ask for their help in stopping this.
posted by Joh at 12:20 AM on October 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


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