On July 22, Devon Collins was watching TV in his bedroom when suddenly his dog began barking incessantly. He knew something had to be wrong.

“I heard our sliding glass door open and there was a guy who was half way in the door,” Collins says.

He stood face-to-face with a middle-aged balding man who was “kind of doughy.” Collins demanded to know what the man was doing in his house.

“I asked him what he wanted and he said, ‘I’m looking for my dog,’” Collins says. He then asked the man why he thought his dog would be in Collins’ back yard. The man quickly answered that the neighbors across the street had seen his dog go into Collins’ yard.

Collins knew the man was lying. He says his neighbors usually park their cars in the front, but when he looked outside, there were no cars to be found. He knew his neighbors weren’t home.

He then asked the man what kind of dog he was looking for and the man calmly replied that he had lost his white pit bull.

“I said, ‘You better leave,’” Collins says. “He then just walked away like nothing had happened.”

Collins did the right thing in asking the suspect to leave, says North Central Patrol Division Deputy Chief David Elliston. “Once you realize what is happening, you should terminate contact as quickly as possible.”

Once the man had gone, Collins noticed that the lock on his backyard fence was broken. That’s when he called the police to report the crime.

Elliston says there is no way to completely protect your property with a fence. A determined burglar will find a way to break even the best locks, he adds, or an intruder can jump a fence.

But there are other ways to protect your property. Collins says the incident has served as a reminder to always lock the doors, and now his family is considering putting in an alarm system.

Did Collins do the right thing in investigating the opening of the sliding door? “I think anybody would have gone to see who was entering,” Elliston says. “It’s just kind of common sense.”

People need to use their judgment in this type of situation, he adds. One could be expecting guests or family members to walk through the door. But once a person comes in contact with an unknown intruder, it’s important to get away.

According to Elliston, victims of forced entry should always create as much distance as possible between themselves and an intruder. “Run next door and get a neighbor to call the police, or grab a cell phone on the way out,” he says.

“If you’ve got kids in the house, you have to act on your best judgment,” Elliston adds. He says your first priority is to make sure your kids are OK and then tell them to go to a neighbor’s house.

“Always look to protect your life and your family’s life first,” he says. “And then property second.”

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