Not only did this shock us, but it has shocked and amazed everyone we have told.
Last Tuesday, at about 4:10 in the afternoon, I was worked at home, with a coaching client due to call at 5pm. My phone rang, from the monitoring center of our burglar/fire alarm, saying that the front basement motion sensor had been triggered. Having received three false alarms in the last five weeks, I told them to ignore it. I asked Lorna if she might be going shopping and could check the house, but she said she had no need to go out. I decided that I had enough time before my client to wander over and check that all was ok.
I was about 30meters away when my phone rang again. This time the monitoring center said that there were repeated triggers of the motion sensors at the back of the house, as well as the first floor. They stayed on the line as I arrived at the house. I immediately noticed that the glass of the basement door was broken, but the security gate was closed, so I walked up the steps to open the main door, and reset the alarm.
As I was unlocking the upper security gate, the curtain of the inner door moved aside, and I found myself looking at a woman! Foolishly or not, I continued opening the gate and unlocking the inner door. As I opened the door, she was standing infront of me. I told her it was time for her to leave, and reached to reset the alarm console just inside the door.
At this point, she told me to get out of her house. I told her it was my house, and she started shouting at me. I still had the control center on the line, so as soon an he heard that there was someone in the house, he called the police. I backed out of the door, thinking, whilst I could easily take her on, I dont want to deal with her suing me for assault, and who knew who was in the house with her.
Now I found myself standing by the gate onto the sidewalk, talking to the control center, with her standing on the threshold of my house, also talking on a mobile, giving someone the details of her property management business and reiterating that she owned our house. I was asking how long the police might take to arrive, fearing that her reinforcements might arrive before mine. He told me that, when they hear that there is a person in the building, they come quick. They sure did. Within ten minutes at least five NYPD vehicles arrived, and suddenly we were deluged with policemen.
Now I realized that they would need evidence of who owned this building. Why would they trust me over her? Fortunately her case sprung a leak very quickly. You see, all details of a house sale are available online, so she was quoting the date of the sale and the purchase cost quite accurately. Only she told them that she bought it online.
As I looked around, I noticed that the basement security gate was not completely shut, and I went down the steps, to find that the lock had been drilled out. This worried me a lot. Not only did it show the ease with which that can be done, without neighbors asking questions, but it meant she had the resources to organize that.
Still more police were now arriving, and a officer who looked just the same, minus the fancy jacket, started asking me questions. I worked out that he must be superior to all the others, and explained the situation. She was still standing on the top of the steps, yelling and gesticulating. I learned that I had to show the title deed to confirm their suspicion that I actually was the owner. They took me inside, where we found a large suitcase of clothes, a smaller bag and her handbag. It seems she planned on moving in. Now I was wondering if this was a sophisticated scam to squat our house, saved only by the alarm that we had not thought necessary until there was something inside worth stealing, but that had been required by the insurance broker.
The woman had been showing the police some documents, to prove ownership. They also found a receipt from the locksmith who opened the door for her. Our neighbor, with whom we have already made a good connection walked up at that moment, and told me that this woman had spoken to her two days previously, saying she was now staying in our place. Bizarrely, a letter addressed to this woman at our address had been delivered in error to that neighbor, who then handed it over to the police.
By this stage, there was enough indication of her intent, for the police to escort her to a police car (still shouting and proclaiming her ownership). They asked me to come with them to our current home so I could show them the title deed, whilst two officers were left guarding the house.
Earlier I had called Lorna to tell her it was more than a false alarm, so now she had run all the way and arrived to the melee of police, owner, burglar, and assorted onlookers.
The police officer took Lorna and me home, where he met our dog, and my mother in law, and I found (to my great relief) the hard copy of the deed. I also took the opportunity to send a message to my client to apologize for not being available for our session (very unprofessional). I then had to go to the police station to get this and my New York driving license photocopied. We went back to the house and waited for the fingerprint people to arrive.
When all that was done, the officer took me to our locksmith so I could get the drilled out lock replaced, and re-secure the house. Here is the most shocking twist of the whole story. I arrived after 6pm, and the man I had done business with had left, but his older partner, who is Polish and has less effective English, was closing up. I explained my need and gave him the address. It is a shame I do not have a video of the process by which he worked out what I was saying, and realized that they were the locksmith who had, earlier that day, gone and drilled out the lock that I had paid them to install!!!!
Having agreed to send their emergency service to fit a lock within the hour, and accepted that I had no intention of paying for it, as I was about to leave, he fearfully asked me if I would speak to the police. Even if his English was good enough, he would not have needed to say what he wanted me to say to the police. Needless to say, I am clear. A woman broke into our house, and that locksmith assisted her.
A big thank you to NYPD. You guys were impeccable. I could not ask for a better service.