This is a neighborly story, but it didn’t start out that way. It started with a robbery.
Kirsten Fentroy and her three daughters, 12-year-old Brenna, 9-year-old Jill and 2-year-old Janaye, took a walk to the doctor’s office last Monday morning (Aug. 19). They were away from their home in Belmont Heights for less than two hours, but someone took that time to cut through a screen and steal the family’s shared laptop — no other items were taken.
“We came inside and my daughter said, ‘My computer is not on the table,’” Fentroy said. “I knew right away what happened. I freaked out. We went next door because we were worried someone might still be in our home. I knocked on neighbors’ doors to let them know to be careful.”
Police officers told Fentroy and her husband, Charles, that the family’s 75-pound bulldog, Bruce, may have scared the criminal from stealing anything more than the laptop.
No suspects have been found so far.
The computer was something that the Fentroy’s oldest daughter used for school, and the family kept photos and personal information on the laptop as well. They said they changed all their passwords, but there’s no way to get the photos back from Janaye’s first trip to Disneyland, among other family moments.
Although the Fentroys are relieved that the robber didn’t take anything more, and that the criminal wasn’t in the house when they came home, they were shaken by the incident. They have asked their landlord to put bars on the windows, and Jill said she is scared to be alone and makes sure the doors are locked when she goes to bed.
“I was pretty scared, and sometimes it (that fear) comes back when we are home or when we are sleeping,” Jill explained.
But that’s not the end of the story.
Two days later, when the three young Fentroy girls told one of their neighbors about how their laptop was stolen, Phyllis and Mitchell Tandler from across the street decided they could help their fellow Long Beach residents. Mitchel Tandler dropped off the two laptops on the Fentroy’s front porch.
“They said their computer had been taken, and we had two laptops that were old but still usable that we were going to donate to a school or something,” Phyllis Tandler said. “We didn’t know our neighbors very well at all. They just moved in (last April), but we both have bulldogs and we’ve met in the last couple of months… This seemed like a good opportunity to do something good.”
The Tandlers, who have been married for 36 years, said they feel fortunate to be able to help their neighbors feel better.
And, they too, are being more vigilant about locking their doors since the robbery.
Jill and her sisters are enjoying the laptops, which are an upgrade from what they had before. Jill, who is going into the fifth grade, said she is excited she doesn’t have to share a computer with her older sister anymore. She has her own now for school assignments, and she said she likes to play games on it too.
Fentroy said she couldn’t believe it when her neighbors gave her family the laptops, and said it’s nice for her daughters to see that there are people who do good things for others.
Ashleigh Ruhl can be reached at email@example.com.