Burglary Is The Sincerest Form Of FlatteryCommentary • Opinion • Economy • crime • ISSUE 38•18 • May 15, 2002 By Joseph Paltz, Twice- Convicted <br>Felon Joseph Paltz Twice- Convicted Felon Judging from the look on your face, I'm guessing you're offended. But please don't take my presence here in your home as a personal affront. When I sneaked into your home under cover of darkness after disarming your security system, feeding the guard dogs a sedative, and climbing to the second-story window with a grappling hook and rope, I never intended to insult you. In fact, my intention was just the opposite. I mean, what is burglary, after all, if not the sincerest form of flattery? Clearly, you're upset. When you came down to the kitchen in your pajamas and bathrobe, you obviously didn't expect to find some stranger with a flashlight packing your wedding silverware into a small satchel. To be perfectly honest, I didn't expect to see you, either. I figured you'd be fast asleep at 3 a.m., not heading down the stairs for a snack. But regardless of what you may think of me, I want you to know that I hold you and your taste in jewelry and home furnishings in the absolute highest regard. From the way you're reaching for the phone to call the police, I can only assume you think I bear you ill will. Before you do something we'll both regret, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. I have looked up to you for quite some time and am a great fan, not only of yourself, but of the many fine material possessions you have amassed in your beautifully appointed home. If only you could see things from my perspective, you'd realize how much I admire you. When I look at you, I don't think, "Here's a rich guy I can rob blind," but rather, "Here is a man of substance, a man who owns the things I would love to own myself." You are the man I wish I could be, a man who enjoys and appreciates life's finer things, a man of means with many desirable valuables. What higher compliment can I pay a man and his fine taste in material possessions than to case his private estate for two weeks, carefully observing the comings and goings of local police patrols and scouring the home's perimeter for possible security weaknesses? Can't you see what a great muse you and your various luxury items have been to this poor, unworthy admirer? If I thought any less of you, would I want your belongings badly enough to risk arrest and possible incarceration in a penal institution? I think not. It is a difficult undertaking, burglary—the constant stress, the endless waiting, the ever-present need to remain one step ahead of the law. But don't you see, my friend? You are worth it! Only a home such as yours, a home chock-full of the most precious items money can buy, would warrant such effort. Consider yourself a man on the receiving end of a true compliment, one from the heart. How I wish, instead of stealing away into the night with your things slung over my back, I could stay here and live the life of a man of means. But, alas, I cannot. You, to say nothing of the state and federal authorities, would never permit it. So these mere trinkets, your possessions, will have to suffice in pale imitation. Though I can never be you, I take some solace in the knowledge that I can surround myself with the objects you keep in your house, once I have transferred them to my own admittedly more modest domicile. Why punish me when I have paid the greatest possible tribute to you? Can't you see I only want to be as much like you as I possibly can within the limits of my low social bearing and ability to sidestep the law? Don't you understand that I am, in fact, your biggest fan, and would never do something so low as to hit you over the head with a length of pipe, heretofore concealed on my person, in a cowardly sneak attack? Sorry about that nasty bump on the head. But that, too, was a form of flattery. If I didn't have the utmost respect for your physical prowess, I wouldn't have gone to the effort of knocking you out, let alone taken the time to strap your unconscious body securely to that chair with packing tape. Only someone I regarded as a genuine superior in the strength department would need to be immobilized in such a manner. Nice safe behind the painting, by the way. Really top-notch. Like everything else you own, it is of the highest quality. I would never have been able to get inside if you didn't have the combination written on the bottom of the second shelf of that bookcase over there. I am only sorry I cannot take the safe itself, that is how high the esteem in which I hold it—and, by extension, you. Thank you. It has been an absolute privilege to meet you. This is not empty flattery, mind you. Anyone could say, "What fantastic and expensive items you have! Oh, how I wish they were mine!" But I have proven my sincerity by going that extra mile and actually robbing you. I can only hope that in time, I will become half the man you are. Or, if not, then at least burgle household goods totaling half the value of the holdings you so admirably possess. Or used to, before I took them. Don't think of what I've done as theft. I would much prefer you view it as an homage. My hat is off to you, fine sir! You are truly a man among men! Please, don't get up. I'll let myself out.