At the end of 2016, I was living with my parents. My mother was overseas for work, so it was just me and my dad at home. He was at work during the day, and I was meant to be at the university, writing my thesis. I must have been having a bad day (or week) of it, because I slept late, had a long breakfast. And lunch. Watched House M.D. Wandered around my parents’ house. And finally left for the office at 3 p.m. I’m not proud of my schedule, but I put it here for the sake of clarity, context.

              Three times that long, slow morning (and afternoon), I was convinced that someone (but who?) was tiptoeing around in the front garden. Three times I looked out the window, cracked the front door. Saw nothing. Convinced myself that it was paranoia.

              And then, at 5:30 p.m., when I was finally sat down in the office, staring at my computer, trying to write, my dad called me. ‘Hi, Anupama. We’ve been robbed. Do you have your laptop with you?’

              I didn’t. They took all the laptops, they took all the jewellery (we’re Indian, it was gold), they took some cutlery, but they also took my plastic costume jewellery. When I got home, my dad was talking to the police, saying the thieves must have run out the front door the moment he opened the door at the back. They had broken in with a crowbar under the window. It’s hard to take fingerprints on cast iron, and in any case, they were probably opportunistic thieves. The police said the robbers would have sold our belongings almost immediately, that we’d never get any of it back.

              In my bedroom, I could tell that one of the thieves had sat on my bed. There was the impression of a butt in the soft top quilt. I could tell that they’d opened every drawer in my dresser.

              My dad and I thought the loss would sink in hard, that we were in shock right now, but after some food it would hit us. We ordered pizza. We watched more House M.D.  The loss did sink in, but it didn’t hit as hard as the weird and unshakeable feeling that a stranger’s butt had sat on our couch, our beds. That they had touched our clothes. Maybe they had peed and pooped in our toilet, we couldn’t know.

              The next day I changed my sheets and wiped down the toilet, the counters. I didn’t know how to tell my thesis supervisor that I hadn’t made any more progress, so I told him the truth. ‘Yesterday, my house was robbed. They stole my laptop. I had work on there that wasn’t backed up anywhere.’ A house robbery isn’t the kind of thing you just make up.

              It is my solemn hope that this issue of The Suburban Review fills you with the same weird discomfort and paranoia, the sense that someone else has been here that my dad and I experienced that summer afternoon. This issue, we have stories of politicians, the Sydney housing market, Chopper Read, magpies, and more.

              It’s gripping stuff, but with a theme as volatile and provocative as THEFT, we do advise caution as some pieces mention violence, the police, and drug use. Where we have deemed content particularly confronting or disturbing, we have included a content note for reader discretion. Read safe, be safe. And I hope that the events you are about to read about are but literary figments and never come to pass.

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