A La Cañada woman returned home from a brief walk Tuesday morning to find her house had been ransacked and burglarized, and at least one suspect may have still been inside.
The burglary occurred sometime between 9:50 and 10:40 a.m. in the 1000 block of Olive Lane, while the homeowner was visiting Descanso Gardens, according to Crescenta Valley Sheriff's deputies.
The victim, who asked not to be identified, said she could tell someone was inside the home when she returned from her outing because of the way her dogs acted. One was sitting placidly in the living room while the other was missing.
“Normally, they’d both be barking as we pull into the driveway,” she said.
She soon noticed the second dog was in the bedroom, looking at something and wagging his tail as if playing a game with someone. Then she heard a noise — a big thump coming from the bedroom — and called her husband as she conducted a check around the house.
When she saw several rooms in the home had been ransacked, she asked her husband to call the sheriff’s department. She believes the intruder sneaked out, undetected, while she was on the phone.
The Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station took the call at 10:43 a.m. Several deputies and a helicopter responded to the scene, believing one or more suspects could be in the home or surrounding area, according to Lt. Randy Tuinstra, the watch commander on duty.
They determined broken screens covering a first-floor window provided the point of entry.
“The homeowner left and the suspects went in, pried their way into it, ransacked the house and took a few things,” Tuinstra said Tuesday. “They went in, did their business and got out.”
The victim, however, believes her return home interrupted the burglars in the act.
“I walked in on it,” she maintained. “I’m 100% positive by the way my dog was acting there was someone in the house.”
The suspects, she added, knew what they were doing — they’d taken leftovers from the fridge to placate the dogs, as evidenced by empty plastic containers on the bedroom floor.
They then proceeded to go room by room, focusing on electronic items and jewelry. The homeowner reported that four iPads, a couple of iPods, her work cellphone and her purse were taken, as well as some jewelry pieces. Several items were broken in the process, she reported.
The victim said while she was still shaken several hours later, she was grateful the incident had not occurred the day before, when she and her children would have been home.
“If it would have been yesterday, things would have been different,” she said.
Sheriff’s are asking residents to be on alert for any suspicious vehicles or people in their neighborhoods, especially if someone is sitting in a car using a cellphone.
In home burglaries, a lookout typically remains outside to communicate with burglars by phone if they see someone approaching. The Sheriff’s Department urges people to call (818) 248-3464 to report such activity.