A Turlock teen was frightened but uninjured when she was home alone and came face to face with a burglar who found her hiding in a closet Sunday afternoon.
The burglary-turned-robbery occurred about 3:20 p.m. on the 2600 block of Castleview Drive in northeast Turlock. Neighbors were out doing yardwork and putting up holiday lights when the burglar kicked in the front door of the home, said Bobi-Jo Pederson McCalley, mother of the 13-year-old girl who was inside.
McCalley believes he was so brazen because the entrance is "kind of private," with lots of shrubbery around it. "This week, they're all coming down," she said.
The man, described only as white or Latino, wearing a dark shirt and dark shorts, was dropped off on the side of the house by an accomplice driver, McCalley said. He was carrying a clipboard and books as though selling something, she said.
He knocked and rang at the front door, but her daughter didn't recognize him and so did not answer, McCalley said. She went upstairs to hide in the master-bedroom closet and called 911 when the man broke in.
The burglar grabbed a tote bag from one bedroom before entering the master bedroom and taking all her jewelry, McCalley said. Her daughter heard him call the driver of the waiting car — a newer, white, two-door car, possibly a Honda Accord, police said — to say he almost was done.
He then swung open the door of the closet where her daughter was hiding. "She started screaming and hit him," she said of her daughter. He grabbed the child's wrist and yelled at her, but "that's when he probably realized she called 911."
He ran, and the girl gave chase to make sure he left the house, her mother said. On Facebook, McCalley thanked neighbors for coming over to help her daughter, and police for their quick response. They were on scene within five minutes of her daughter calling 911, she said. "Unfortunately, it was two minutes after the bad guys left."
Her daughter followed family rules by hiding when she thought someone was breaking in, McCalley said. "I had always said, don't answer the door" to a stranger, she said, and police offered her additional advice: A child should tell a stranger through the door that a parent is home and the child will get them.
"In break-ins like this," McCalley said, "they don't want to break into a house someone is in."
Her daughter did the right thing by staying on the line with 911 dispatch throughout the burglary, her mother added. "She did not call me until after he was gone."
Anyone with information on the crime is urged to call the Turlock Police Department at 209-668-5550 and ask for Detective Cliff Lewis. Tipsters also can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.