(c) 2013 Trina Lambert What the intruder left behind . . .

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert
What Intruder A left behind in the front yard . . .

Good fences make . . . people break them to get onto your property? On this frigid morning, I’ve been out playing CSI. No, there isn’t a body, but a couple someones worked pretty hard to get onto our property last night.

We have a mish-mash of fencing on our property, which means the easy way to access our space is by entering through the chain link gate at the front. Otherwise people have to go over the ancient pre-chain link metal fencing on the north side, the taller privacy wood fencing our neighbors erected on the south, or the fencing that Sherman created that faces the east from our back yard toward our outdoor parking and the alley beyond. Of course, the alley side is likely more intruder-friendly, even with the sensor lights that both we and our next-door neighbors keep on our alley-side detached garages.

However, for the most part, people who do not live in this house do not know how to open our back gate—which Sherman designed to outsmart our former dog who could open gates with a strong head butt. Which I guess is why when people really want to come in, they break the gate or the fence. Several years ago someone broke the gate to hop in and steal—of all things—hanging baskets filled with my freshly planted Gerbera daisies. Well, this time they took out the fencing and walked in.

Who breaks into property on the coldest night of the year, with fresh snow on the ground? Apparently, one person wearing skater shoes and another wearing hiking/running shoes.

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert Intruder's Escape Down the Alley

(c) 2013 Trina Lambert
Intruder B’s escape down the alley

With this morning’s discoveries, last night’s experiences make more sense.

I shut the dogs in their crates with their dinners around 5:30, then left to meet Sherman so we could see Jackson’s one-act play performance. By the time we stopped to grab dinner at Chipotle and fill up the car at Loaf & Jug, we didn’t make it home until sometime after 10:00.

We let the dogs outside. At some point they barked. Sherman also heard a loud noise, like a door or gate slamming. Soon after he saw someone emerge from behind our neighbors’ taller privacy fence and head down the alley, dressed only in a white T-shirt and dark pants—definitely not normal attire for sub-zero temps. At the time he thought maybe one of our neighbors stepped out briefly to talk on the phone that lighted up in the person’s hand.

The two of us dropped into bed soon after, although I planned to read for a few minutes before turning off the light. Both dogs and I heard crunching of snow outside our bedroom window—I assumed our son had arrived home and decided to walk around to the back door—which I told those sage listeners that my dogs are. When nothing happened, they kept looking at me (they really are smart enough to get excited when Jackson’s name has been mentioned!) so I went with them to the back door and opened it. Saw nothing, locked up, and went back to text my son. He replied that he wasn’t anywhere near home, though. That made no sense—maybe the neighbor to the north was walking in his yard? (Right, the neighbor whose house is dark by 9:00 p.m. and who leaves for work before 7:00 a.m.)

But fall asleep I did, only slightly noting when my son did return home.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert The fence not respected--by humans, anyway.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert
The fence not respected–by humans, anyway.

In the morning, Sherman discovered not only was the entry door to the garage open, but also the fence beside that dastardly gate had been removed from its attachments. I went out to discover one pair of footprints leading out from our side yard (beside the bedroom wall) through the opened front gate.

So far, thankfully nothing seems to be missing. We’ve filed a police report and the police plan to step up patrols in our neighborhood and alley for the next few days.

As for me, I’ve got pictures of the treads from our intruders’ shoes—for what that’s worth. From the prints I have a pretty good idea of which shoe-wearer went where on our property, but not why. Somehow I figure it’s much more satisfying to investigate a crime scene and discover what really happened—as well as catch the perpetrators. Other than that the only satisfaction I have is that the police officer said these types of intruders don’t tend to return to the same homes. Guess we’re just lucky we came home in time to stop whatever they had planned, but not so early that we got to meet them face-to-face.

Reminded again that a fence is only a barrier to those who respect boundaries.

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