STELLARTON – Henrietta Hunter says a recent attempted break-in into her apartment has left her feeling more vulnerable than ever.
Henrietta Hunter steps outside her Stellarton apartment. She said the aluminum door to her apartment was recently damaged during an attempted break-in and it won’t be replaced by community services. Although there is another door to her home, she said would feel safer with the aluminum door back and it would increase the amount of light going into her home. Sueann Musick – The News
Not only is the Stellarton resident rattled by an event in June when a youth tried to enter her home and threatened to hurt her, she says she is now left without the extra protection of a second door on her home.
Hunter said it was in the early morning hours of June 15 when she heard a loud noise outside.
“I heard my door crashing and someone hollering. I opened the curtain to see who it was. This girl looked at me like she had murder in her eyes and that was what she was telling me, but I didn’t know how she was going to do it.”
Hunter said the girl broke two locks on the aluminum door and bent the pump that is attached to the doorframe. She said she doesn’t know where her own strength came from, but she managed to press against the door and keep the girl on the other side until the police arrived.
“She did get one foot in on my mat, but she was able to pull it back,” she said.
When the police arrived, they located the girl a street over from Hunter’s apartment. She was arrested and pleaded guilty to charges of mischief causing damage, uttering threats and breaching an undertaking. She was sentenced to six months of deferred custody followed by six months’ probation. She was also ordered to pay $479.71 in restitution by January 2014.
Hunter says the incident not only caused her some physical and mental pain, but repairs had to be made to the doorframe while she lost a few personal items in the incident.
“I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the police. I never had to use them before. The officer came back and fixed my door so it would lock for that night so it could be repaired,” she said, adding permanent repairs were made afterwards by the housing authority.
Her aluminum door was also ruined and removed by the housing authority and replaced with a steel door system which she says doesn’t allow as much light into the home or as much air to flow through.
“The government said no more repairs on doors,” she said. “If you don’t look after your door, it has to be repaired and you don’t get another one. That’s its policy and I’ve always looked after my door, but I didn’t cause this damage.”
Hunter says she knows the door doesn’t provide the best security, but on this particular night, it bought her some time before the girl was able to get a foot inside her home.
“I don’t feel comfortable with not having my aluminum door,” she said. “It took her awhile for her to bust the aluminum door. Long enough for me to call 911.”
Hunter said she suffers from post-traumatic stress from past life experiences so it is difficult for her to think about tomorrow because she is always thinking about the past. She also has arthritis that limits the use of her hands, diabetes and Graves disease.
She said because of her health issues, she is home most of the day, but now feels closed in with little light coming in to the home since both her front and back doors have smaller windows.
Because of her fixed income, Hunter can’t afford to replace the aluminum door, but she might have been able to get a friend to do the repair work.
“If I don’t have that door, I don’t feel safe,” she said. “The Department of Community Services should have given me the option of having someone fix the door before they took it off.”
According to the Department of Community Services, when an existing door needs to be replaced, it is replaced with an insulated steel, vinyl-clad entry system. The government department says these doors are much safer and have an operating window for ventilation and light.
“The steel door system has lower maintenance requirements and lowers the maintenance cost for taxpayers,” said Elizabeth MacDonald, communications adviser for the Department of Community Services. “This requires installing a new doorframe and there is no maintenance rationale for installing a storm door when a steel insulated exterior door is used.”
MacDonald said once the steel door is in place, it can’t be changed in any way or its warranty becomes void.
“In order not to void the warranty, screen door installation is not permitted, regardless of who pays,” she said. “The tenant would, therefore, not be given permission to install a screen door over a steel door because of this warranty requirement.”
For now, Hunter says her life is slowly getting back to normal after the incident, but the experience has changed her.
“I think people should know these things are happening,” she said. “I keep a can of hairspray and a hammer on top of my fridge just because psychologically it would be something. Even that would stall them and let you get to the home.”