One evening a few years ago I returned home from summer vacation ahead of my wife and children. Unlocking the door, I flipped on a light switch—and nothing happened. “Strange,” I thought. “I must have forgotten to pay the bill.”

I found matches, lighted a candle, and went to the telephone to call the light company. As I reached out to pick up the receiver, I noticed that the upholstery of the chair in which I sat had been slashed. Startled, I looked toward the window and saw the draperies hanging in shreds.

Candle in hand, I moved from room to room. The farther I went, the worse it got. Great gashes in all the living room furniture. Curtains cut in half. Bedspreads, sheets, and mattresses slashed. My wife’s costume jewelry was cut, broken, and dumped into the middle of the floor. An entire rack of ties were cut in half. Suits, dresses, coats, and shirts were still neatly on hangers and seemed all right—until I lifted them out of the closets.

After notifying the police, I called my wife. She choked for a moment, then said: “Nothing else makes any difference, if you’re all right. I’m so glad you didn’t walk in on them.”

Detectives and photographers spent an hour going over evidence and concluded that we had been visited by juvenile vandals. “I hope you have the right kind of insurance,” the detective lieutenant said as he left.

“You’re well protected for fire and windstorm damage,” my insurance agent assured me. Then he cleared his throat a couple of times and said he guessed he had failed to give me one of the new all-risk policies. “Afraid you aren’t covered for burglary or vandalism,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

Alone in that ripped-up, slashed-up house, I went upstairs to go to bed. With my nerves screaming, I turned back the bedspread ...

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