As I turned down my street on the way home from work yesterday, I noticed a man walking a dog. I immediately realized that this man wasn't one of the "usual" dog walkers in my neighborhood. You know that "sixth sense" we all have, the little voice that tells us that something isn't right? Well, mine was screaming. I pulled into my driveway and just sat there. I observed the man, with dog on leash, looking up each of my neighbor's driveways.
I had seen this on the news once. Crooks use dog walking as a way to get into a neighborhood, and evaluate who is home at each house during different parts of the day. Needless to say, goosebumps erupted on my arms as I realized this guy was "casing" my block. Should I confront him? Ask what he is doing? Technically, he hadn't done anything wrong. YET!
I watched him walk past my house, and stop at my next door neighbor's. He hesitated, then began walking toward her backyard. Once he was blocked by the fence that divides our yards, I jumped out of my car and flew into my front door, locking it behind me.
From my family room window, I could see this man depositing his bag of doggie "droppings" into my neighbor's garbage pail. "Who does that?" I thought to myself as my heart began to pound. Next, he let the dog off the leash and climbed onto my neighbor's deck. I ran to the next window to get a closer look. By this time, he was tugging at my neighbor's sliding door. The bastard got the door open and walked in!!!
With shaking hands, I dialed 9-1-1. My voice was quivering as I told the dispatcher I was witnessing a robbery in progress, and the cops should be careful because he has a big dog with him.
The dispatcher asked my address and that of my neighbor. My heart was thumping so loudly I could hear it in my own ears. I quickly glanced at the clock to see how much time before the school buses came. Surely, we didn't want them caught in the crossfire. The dispatcher asked me for a description of the perpetrator. "Tall, white male," I answered. Now she wanted a clothing description. How could I remember when all I was concerned about was this man rifling through my neighbor's drawers and personal items?
As luck would have it, the man came out of the back door and began walking toward the front yard again. I ran through my house to look out a front window and began describing his clothing for the dispatcher. Suddlenly, a woman appeared. I didnt see her arrive. An accomplice? They both walked toward a car parked in front of the house. She opened the trunk. Horror sprang through my bones as I realized they were going to load up the "getaway" car with my neighbor's possessions. IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!!
What's this? They weren't loading the car? They were UNLOADING it! Duffle bags, and suitcases. Huh? They grabbed some items and walked into my neighbor's front door.
"Ummmm... dispatcher? I may have made a mistake. Yes, I know the police are on their way, but I think maybe, just maybe, my neighbor has some relatives visiting, but I've been their neighbor for 19 years. I know 99% of their relatives. Who ARE these people???"
I ended my call and quickly dialed my neighbor at work. "Annette, do you have house guests?" She said as soon as she saw my number pop up, she realized she should have given me the heads up. Yes, relatives from Florida were arriving, with a dog. She had left the back door open, I guess. She wanted to know if everything was okay. "Sure," I told her, "except I just called the cops on them!" The two of us burst into hysterical laughter, so hysterical in fact, that we could barely finish our conversation.
I walked out toward the squad car, and explained the whole thing to the very kind police officer, who was clearly bemused by the whole thing. The "crooks" came over and introduced themselves as the people "who are not breaking in." I was mortified. When they walked away, the cop really tried to make me feel better. He praised me for looking out for my neighbors. He said the block was lucky to have me. (Which is what I have been telling this block for years!!! LOL) He told me that it very easily could have been a robbery, and asked how would I have felt if I didn't go with my gut?
Two minutes later, another car came, and I had to tell that officer the same story. He also was extremely kind, and told me I did the right thing. When I apologized for wasting his time, he assured me I did no such thing. I think he wanted to add, You gave us something to laugh about back at the precinct!"
Oh well, this is one for the books. I live on an awesome street with awesome people whom I love like family. We will be laughing about this for a long time to come, but I hope they all realize that I will have their grandma arrested if she looks the least bit suspicious. I will always be looking out for them.
Did you ever TOTALLY misread a situation?????