May 22nd, 2009 12:06 AM
Warning, too long: When something isn't right at your neighbor's house
This is more of an after-action report rather than a "what would you do" scenario because I have an idea what most people would do. Here's what happened:
Early this morning, just past midnight, I rolled into my neighborhood on my way home from work. Everything was dark. Nothing was moving. I pulled into my garage, lowered the door, and went inside.
While I was eating my vitamin food of Prarie Farm's "Vanilla Storm" ice cream (the vanilla is only a conduit for the chocolate chunks, which are life's real vitamins ), I got a quick fix of DC for about 15 minutes. I would have read longer, but I had to get up in 5 1/2 hours.
As I begin my final window/door/alarm checks on the way to bed, while checking the front door deadbolt, I hear a noise outside. I look through the peephole and see a flashing light reflecting off the neighbor's garage which is almost directly across the road from me. I couldn't tell what it was, so I went to a bedroom window for a better look.
Their garage door is now stuck 3/4 of the way open, and the garage door opener is flashing like they do when there is either an object in the way, or the door is misaligned. All lights in the house are off. The flashing light stands out like a beacon since everything else is dark.
The neighbors are a family, a young couple with two small kids. They are very friendly, although I don't speak to them much. Our schedules conflict somewhat, plus we generally keep to ourselves.
Anyway, this scene doesn't seem right to me at all. I had just driven in and the entire street had been dark except for a few porch lights and a few street lights. I surely would have noticed the flashing beacon across from my garage if it had been on.
So I called the police. Not 911, but the regular police number. I had just used it at work a few hours earlier, and I remembered it. Come to think of it, I do have it programmed into my cell phone, but I didn't remember that at the time. I reported a "possible garage intrusion" and explained the situation to the dispatcher.
It took about 4 minutes for the first police cruiser to show up. They parked up the street a house or two, with their lights out, and walked the rest of the way. Soon 2 more police vehicles showed up. From inside my house, I watched them look in the garage and around the house. I could hear them knocking on the front door. No one answered. After 5-10 minutes, the police appeared to be getting ready to leave, so I went out to ask them if they wanted his phone number.
I handed an officer my cell phone and asked him to search for my neighbor by name (since I couldn't read my phone without my reading glasses). I thought surely I had programmed his number in my phone. Nope, the officer couldn't find it.
Apparently I am so naive I didn't realize they could get access to his number through their dispatcher, and they had already tried to call him, but no answer. I hadn't called the neighbor myself... we're not that close, and I never even considered it up until that point.
Well, the police just up and left, not because they got another call, but because they just felt it was a garage door malfunction and nothing more.
After they left, I found my neighbor's phone number (translation: I went and got my glasses so I could read my cell phone, and then I realized that rather than programming in his name, I programmed it as "Neighbor xxxx". ) I called him, but it went straight to voice mail.
So here it is, 12:30 a.m., his garage door is up, the light is flashing, he has hundreds of dollars of tools and other equipment in his wide-open garage, and there was no response from the house. The police have left, and by this time I'm back inside and have resumed watching the light show.
Hmmmm. I'm thinking if someone had just broken into his house, now they have free reign to do whatever they choose since the police have left.
During the event, except for at the end when I went outside to talk to the police, my wife is watching the scene with me from inside our house. She knows it isn't right, but she thinks I'm paranoid to even consider the possibility of a home invasion. She tells me I have been "reading too much." Nevertheless, the situation has her complete attention because it is so out-of-the-ordinary.
So now that the police have left, I have two choices: watch the garage the entire night, or go on to bed and hope it's alright. I went on to bed although I didn't feel comfortable about it.
This morning when I got up, the neighbor's garage door was closed and his truck was gone.
Why didn't the police use the doorbell instead of knocking? In some two-story houses, like my neighbor's, a doorbell can be heard on the second floor better than a knock.
Is there anything else they could have done to verify it wasn't a home invasion in progress?
Followup with my neighbor:
I saw my neighbor this evening, and went over and explained why I called him in the middle of the night. His eyes got real big when I told him there were 3 cops in his garage and yard this morning, and that they had been knocking on his door early this morning.
He said he and his family came home last night and went in around 9 p.m. He said they never heard the door knock. His cell phone was downstairs on the charger, and likely turned off. He didn't get my message until he got to work. I have no idea what number the police called, whether it was his cell phone or if they have a landline.
My neighbor said he never locks the house door coming in from the garage, so if someone gets into the garage, they could walk right into the house. I don't know if he locked the door last night, or if the police tried it.
He also said he sometimes doesn't lock their back door. He mentioned getting busy putting the kids to bed, etc., and not thinking about it.
I told him of some sex crimes in our neighborhood and a nearby neighborhood that occurred 13 years ago, where two different little girls were molested in their own houses while the parents were asleep, all due to some perp walking in through unlocked doors.
My neighbor tells me his uncle is a sheriff in the county, and is always telling him to be safe because of the crime around. I don't guess it has sunk in to my neighbor yet.
I'm just posting this as food for thought. I don't think I would do anything differently, unless I felt there were BG's outside. Then I would not have gone outside. When I did go outside, there were at least 3 LEO's right there.
At that point, they already knew I had called. The dispatcher had asked who I was, and I did tell her, even though I usually prefer to remain anonymous.
Although some, including my wife, may think I overreacted, my actions went a long ways toward building a relationship with my neighbor. I'm hoping he'll watch my house as close as I watched his last night.
Who knows... someday we may have to rely on our neighbors more than we do today to help keep our families safe.
I've posted in the past about how I wouldn't expose myself to danger for my neighbors. I've since gotten to know a few neighbors who are great people. For them, I would expose myself somewhat.
Then there's the family next door who has always treated us like crap. I won't be risking my life for them, unless Hell happens to freeze over sometime soon... and maybe not even then. They have been inconsiderate for years while we have tried to be nice, so them. Apparently we are not the right pedigree for them.
Oh, and for all you folks who don't have nearby neighbors, I am sooooooo jealous!!! Maybe someday that'll be us, but for now, I'll just try to be a good neighbor... except for the haters next door. They be on their own.
May 22nd, 2009 12:12 AM
Good job. I can't think of anything I would have done differently. Kudos on having your neighbor's numer in your phone.
"Criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot."
May 22nd, 2009 12:20 AM
Right there with you Grady, I would have done the same thing. You kept yourself safe and you watched out for your neighbor. Good for you! I only have two neighbors and they both keep to themselves but are nice enough. Other than them it's all fields and woods.
"I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, you can't prove anything!" Bart Simpson
May 22nd, 2009 12:27 AM
Grady, actually I don't have any nearby neighbors, and we like that a LOT. However you can be my neighbor anytime you want.
Originally Posted by grady
Turn the election's in 2014 to a "2A Revolution". It will serve as a 1994 refresher not to "infringe" on our Second Amendment. We know who they are now.........SEND 'EM HOME. Our success in this will be proportional to how hard we work to make it happen.
May 22nd, 2009 01:00 AM
Good on you for keeping an eye out for your neighbors Grady. Hopefully this event and your talk with him will help him think about how to better keep himself and his family safe.
Is the open garage door chalked up to a malfunction?
May 22nd, 2009 01:31 AM
Neighborhood watch.. Ya did a great thing, and I'm sure he is thankful..
May 22nd, 2009 01:38 AM
You're a good neighbor, Grady... well done!
May 22nd, 2009 01:54 AM
Id say you did good. I wish i had someone looking out for me a couple of years ago. I was out of town. I got a call from a friend at work saying the police had called him on my work nextel and i should call her. Turns out my house had been broke into and they had gotten all my guns, some speakers and a few other odds and ends including the nextel. They had also stolen a car with onstar on it and thats how they were caught. Never did get all my guns back and now i have a safe. Anyway, didnt mean to hijack, good job!
May 22nd, 2009 02:25 AM
I'd say you done good. I won't go get in a gunfight for my neighbors, but I will call the locals in blue to sort it out, which is what you did.
You intervened, but at a level that was to your choosing, not someone else's. That is what I encourage people to do. FWIW: I think you done the right thing.
May 22nd, 2009 03:15 AM
Grady, I wish that you were my neighbor!
ALWAYS carry! - NEVER tell!
"A superior Operator is best defined as someone who uses his superior
judgement to keep himself out of situations that would require a display of his
May 22nd, 2009 06:33 AM
Well done, Grady. Your neighbors are fortunate to have you in the neighborhood.
We have great neighbors here...they watch out for each other. Open garage doors, escaping dogs, etc. It's nice to know that those around you have their eyes open.
The last Blood Moon Tetrad for this millennium starts in April 2014 and ends in September 2015...according to NASA.
Certified Glock Armorer
NRA Life Member[/B]
May 22nd, 2009 07:48 AM
Grady, I've said before that I believe you're a pretty level headed guy and I think you handled the situation in the best possible way.
I understand your concern for the police not making more of an effort to determine if the occupants were home or if intruders had gained entry into the house from the garage. But really, you did what you were supposed to do and I commend you! The police aren't always going to perform the way we "think" they should and it's not our place to do their jobs for them either.
I think your neighbor appreciates your actions and like you said, hopefully he will keep an eye out for your place as well.
"The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."
May 22nd, 2009 08:28 AM
I wish all of my neighbors were like you, Grady.
I'm outdoors a lot. I walk (run) my dogs every day. I stop and talk to folks and get to know them. Most people (especially women) just stay inside all of the time.
I see a lot of things that are disturbing....like a 3 year old wandering down the street by himself (Mom's inside the house and is unaware).
I've seen gates left open for the dogs to wander off....Garage doors left open.
I've seen the woman across the street hauled out of her house in handcuffs.
I've seen domestic abuse 2 doors down.
I've seen my neighbor behind my house involved in a stand-off with the police and one week later I saw him blow his house up.
I've seen all of this because:
1. I was outdoors
2. I was paying attention
You did the right thing, Grady.
As for the neighbors from hell, I'm not sure I'd help them either....although my gut instinct tells me I would because I'm all about doing the right thing.
Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. — Winston Churchill
May 22nd, 2009 08:45 AM
Your an excellent neighbor Grady, would gladly have you as mine! Great job looking out for others safety!
May 22nd, 2009 08:57 AM
I don't think I would have done anything differently.
I have neighbors that I look out for as this is a mostly military community and almost all my neighbors are retired military.
I might have gone and rang the doorbell, but think I would have most likely watched the house for a time until I felt all was well.
Thanks for posting!
"Without fear there can be no Courage!"
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