On a recent Sunday afternoon, I am sitting in my office cleaning up some matters. Since moving our offices to Studio City, it is easy to drop in after lunch and handle some work – especially since I am a Saturday football guy and not a Sunday one. The Beautiful Wife (BW) calls with an anxious voice. A stranger just entered our home. That is where our story begins.
We live in a very safe neighborhood that no one could find before smart phones, Google Maps and Waze. We have been here for 29 years with no personal incidents and only one real one for a neighbor on our cul-de-sac. On occasion, we have mistakenly left our garage door open overnight with no incident except for a couple raccoons taking up residence on a shelf.
Our garage door was malfunctioning, stuck in the open position and the new one on order had yet to be installed. It turns out that had little to do with this incident.
BW was on the other side of the house relaxing and watching something on TV. She heard our three dogs going crazy as they are a great alarm system. Anyone who gets near the house gets the barking treatment. They are a valuable part of our security along with our modern system that alerts our monitoring company if anyone enters without disarming the pad when we are not home.
BW crossed over to the other side visually checking the front of the house. She did not see anything there and then checked the backyard thinking there was a critter setting off the doggies. When she reentered the house, she was directly facing the door from our family room into the garage. That door opened and a man she had never seen before stepped into our house. She immediately asked him who he was and his reply was “a visitor.” She looked directly at him and said to him a strong voice. “Get out of my house, I am calling 911.” He turned around and walked out. She went to the front porch to watch him leave and quite surprisingly she saw him pull his car out of our garage (my space) and drive away.
She called the police and then called her adoring husband. I asked her a few questions to establish that The Visitor never physically threatened her. She was definitely rattled. Who would not be? Having personally experienced a place burgled before, I know one feels violated. Most of us expect to and do go through life without ever having a criminal invade your space. If it does occur, typically one is not home but still feels violated. Facing down someone heightens the feelings you experience.
You may be wondering how the BW came to react the way she did. She attended a program which was brought to our clergy by me to have a Jewish gun owner night (I am not). Since it is safe to say a large part of the membership is anti-gun, we felt it would be beneficial to them to hear and see real-live Jews who own and use guns. (Note: Kudos to the clergy at Stephen Wise
Temple for having the program. It was offered to other Temples after the successful event and they all turned it down.)
During the panel one of the participants made clear if there is an invader in your house, you do not approach them even if you are armed. You do exactly what the BW did — yell loudly at them to get out and that you are calling the police. Somehow BW ingrained that in her memory and bravely stared down The Visitor. He had no desire to confront anyone and left.
When the cops arrived, they noticed our neighbor across the cul-de-sac has security cameras. We soon narrowed down the video to when The Visitor arrived. He had slowly driven around the curve of our home, saw the empty space in the garage, pulled forward and saw no lights on in the house and figured it was empty. That is when he pulled into the garage. He sat in his car for about 30 minutes waiting to enter the house as he certainly heard the dogs and decided to enter when they finally calmed down a bit after he observed no human activity.
The police left telling us a fingerprint specialist would contact us and maybe some detectives, but we figured this would probably be the end of the matter.
As I sat in the family room that night at 9 PM the phone rang. It was the police. The officer said “we believe we have the person who entered your house. We would like you to identify him. We are sitting in front of your house.” I go to the front window. No cops. I knew he was around the corner at a house with the same address and a similar street name. I advised him how to get to our house and went to roust the BW from whatever she was doing and get her prepared. There was not going to be a six-pack or a line-up. They think they have the guy and he is not far away.
The coppers get to the house and they identify themselves. There was Asian lead guy and a Hispanic (sure; the LAPD is racist. The first team was a female lead and a Hispanic). I told them the BW would be with us shortly. Then I asked them if they were Jewish by chance. Surprisingly, neither were, but they got a good laugh.
We hopped in the back seat of the patrol vehicle. One doesn’t actually “hop” into the back of an LAPD vehicle. A more uncomfortable experience is not really available. Waterboarding might be better than this. Certainly, it made one yearn for a middle seat in coach on a domestic airline. We head around the corner, just a couple of blocks away.
There was another patrol car with a couple of other Coppers. They were holding a man. We could not readily see so they pulled a little closer and put the spotlight on the perp. The BW immediately blurted out “That’s him. That is the same t-shirt with the red background on the chest.” Game over. The Coppers had him. We pulled by the other patrol car and saw the same car that had entered and exited our garage. He had tried to pull the same burglary on another home, who called it in, and the connection was made.
Who would have thought that LAPD would have nabbed the guy less than six hours later? He would have to be classified as a stupid criminal trying to pull another caper in the same neighborhood the same day. The fingerprinting specialist showed up the next morning and then a couple of detectives. We were just left with dealing with the aftermath and how the BW was absorbing the episode she had experienced.
That leads to the other part of this story. We both conveyed the experience to a multitude of people. Unfortunately, we often had the reaction that so regularly happens — unsolicited advice. How to tend to our home or our security system and on and on and on. In my opinion there are only two things to say. 1) How is BW doing? 2) Can I do anything? Why people think they need offer advice in these moments is beyond me. BW just needed a hug and some love. She is doing well. She had a bad day partially brought on by people asking too many questions or injecting their opinions, but she has handled this like a true trooper. It certainly would be different if The Visitor would have advanced toward her. He was just trying to take some of our belongings and leave. It appears, thankfully, that he had no intent to see or harm anyone.
Quite a story that hopefully you will never experience. Rave reviews to LAPD for doing a bang up job on something we thought would go by the wayside. We are grateful and we have changed a few procedures considering our new Waze world.
One note: You may have noticed I refer to the police as “cops” or “coppers.” I have developed this habit of never walking past police without thanking them. I walk up to them and say “Hey, Copper, thank you for being here and thank you for protecting us. I put out my hand and shake theirs. Sometimes we engage in a little conversation. It brightens their day. I told a police chief I know what I do and he said the cops love it. You should try it. Yes, that’s unsolicited advice, but at an appropriate time.