Doorbell rings in middle of the night--How did I do?


March 18, 2003, 10:41 AM
Here's what happened:

Imagine a "U" shaped street. We live at the bottom of the "U". Access to our house is from either direction. Last night, the doorbell rang at 12:18 AM, waking me and my wife up from sleep. I immediately went to the door and asked "who is it". No response. Did this about 5 more times. I tried to move the shades slightly and noticed an SUV parked in the street in front of the house, but I could not see anyone at the door.

I have a snub with me that I picked up while in the main room. My wife and I decide to call the police. It's now 12:24 AM. My wife calls 911 and, while talking to the operator, covers the back of the house with a different revolver. The operator instructs her to call back if the person "does" anything. My wife hangs up with the operator and stays in the back of the house.

Several minutes later, I see a figure walking in the yard away from our house and toward the neighbors. Several minutes after that (about 12:30 AM), the police drive up, shine a light in the SUV and around it, and park behind it. Another police car drives up. No one exits either vehicle and they drive off. Several minutes later, I see the same person walking towards the SUV (coming from the side of the house--not the same side where I saw him going), reaches in the car, and pulls something out that is the size of a wallet/pack of cigarettes. He walks along the side of the house from where he came and disappears. His SUV lights blink and horn honks three times, which apparently attracted the attention of the (nearby?) police. They come driving up, shine the lights again, but find nothing. They drive off. Several minutes later, the person walks from the side/back of the house, gets in the SUV, turns around in our driveway, and drives off. My wife calls the police (it's approximately 1:00 AM) and tells the operator that they guy drove off. She politely declines the offer from the operator for the police to come to the door and talk to us. We put away the hardware and my wife goes to bed.

But I'm wide awake now and still thinking about it. Several minutes later, I see a police officer in the backyard with a flashlight, looking around. He walks off and I go to bed at approx 1:15 AM.

Here's my analysis:

Good points:

The porch light and side lights were already on, illuminating the area.

It was amazingly comforting to know that we were both armed.

I also had a big MagLight flashlight with me.

I have complete confidence in my wife's shooting ability.

She was covering the back of the house before I even thought about it.

Needs Improvement:

I went to the door without my pants. No pockets for the snub or flashlight.

My wife had to throw them to me after calling the police.

We need another MagLight for her.

The speedloaders were nowhere near us.

I put the snub down as soon as the police arrived, trusting that they would find the guy.


I also had a shotgun nearby. I admit that my emergency plans always hinged around carrying that around. But, in the heat of the moment, I was afraid that it would have been too bulky and gotten in the way. So I chose the revolver (to my surprise).

I had to give my wife the 4" revolver, as she didn't know/forgot where it was.

After calling the police, should I have shouted through the door that they were on their way?

Should I have shouted that I was armed?

Should I have answered the door?

Thanks for the comments.

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March 18, 2003, 10:55 AM
Sorry you had to go through that; glad you're both OK. You did a good self-assessment, but I kept thinking that I would have been a little more insistent on, and helpful to, arranging a meeting between the cops and the BG. IOW, I would have gotten back on the phone and acted as "eyes" for the patrol cops via the dispatcher. On the shotgun and pants thing, I agree with your points. Stay safe.

TFL Survivor

March 18, 2003, 11:01 AM
The wife should definately know where her gun is... What if you weren't there when this transpired?

I always make it a point to put on pants when I get out of bed unless just going to the bathroom. Don't think this would be a big deal either way but then, the gun I gram holds 16 rounds and I'm not worried about mags/speed loaders. Silly as it sounds, wearing pants probably contributes to your confidence and you want as much of that as you can muster.

I probably wouldn't mention that I was armed through the door. It would probably be difficult to second guess how the person would react. They could think you were lying and scared which might make them more likely to come in.

Only time I've had to call the police for anything like that was a year or two back. We got a call that just said something like, 'Just wanted to make sure you were home' and then he hung up. I though about it for a couple minutes and called 911. I had everyone get to the back of the house just in case someone started firing a lot of rounds into the house. The wife did het the 686 which is her house gun but even though she had access to it, I had to remind her where it was... we corrected that. About 30 times a day for the next week I told her/asked her where it was. Officer showed up and came in to talk for a moment. I informed him that there was a loaded pistol in the room and he said that was fine unless I pointed it at him. We filled out a report and he told me to be sure to keep my finger off the trigger until I knew who I was getting ready to shoot at. Very cordial.

No one got hurt in your incident and you figured a couple things to work on... sounds like you did good.

Be safe!

March 18, 2003, 11:38 AM
My question is why did the police not investigate the scene more carefully?

After all, they have an unoccupied vehicle as their first clue that something might be going on. A foot patrol would be a good idea, after boxing in the vehicle and running the tag.

March 18, 2003, 12:13 PM
Thanks for the comments. We will definitely review the locations of the guns so that it is ingrained.

Also, I think it's a good idea to have stayed on the phone with the dispatcher.

CZ: I don't know why the police didn't investigate more thoroughly. I believe that they ran the plates of the SUV, but they never got out until after we reported that they guy drove away.

Very unsettling.

Steve Smith
March 18, 2003, 12:17 PM
Would you folks please give an indication of where you are located? The "pants" issue is hard to call since I don't know what the weather's like where you are. Here, last night, I would have immediately put my pants on because it was windy, cold, and snowing. On a nice warm night I might have skipped it.

One thing no one has said was there was no resolution with this guy. He may be back tonight or next week. Be careful.

March 18, 2003, 04:23 PM
Hereabouts, the police will run a license check on the vehicle in question, it probably came up clean. That's why they didn't bother to stay around.

Not that it'll do you any good immediately, but if anything happens in your neighborhood, they'll have a record of this SUV being in your neighborhood and can trace it back to the owner.

This is a perfect case of the importance of knowing your neighbors. A quick question to them the next morning would tell you if they know the driver.

March 18, 2003, 04:33 PM
Probably some kid came by to visit his friends, parked around the corner, then took off?

What's your location?

March 18, 2003, 05:22 PM
The more I think about it, the more I believe that the cops ran the license plate when they arrived. I know that it wasn't anyone for the neighbors or the surrounding people ( I know most of them/recognize frequent visitors) but this guy may have parked in the U and then been walking back and forth to visit his friends.

March 18, 2003, 05:39 PM
Sounds like a casual aquaintence of the neighbors, not sure of the proper house, etc. You handled it quite well, and are probably your own worst critic. Work on the areas you mentioned, though I imagine nobody is ever truly satisfied with their own handling of a situation.

Standing Wolf
March 18, 2003, 05:58 PM
I doubt I'd bother putting on trousers, but would put on a bath robe and drop a speed loader into a pocket. I wouldn't even consider going to the door at that hour without at least a .357 magnum in hand, and more likely a .44 magnum.

I live alone, so there's no wife to call the police for me, but it's just occurred to me to drop the cordless telephone into the other bath robe pocket. I have a flash light, but it's time to upgrade it.

Your local P.D. doesn't sound like it's on top of the job. That saidâ„¢, the last time I called the San Jose, People's Republic of California police to report a burglary in progress next door, the brave boys in blue showed up half an hour later.

March 18, 2003, 06:33 PM
Does anyone doubt that calling the police is hit-and-miss and being armed is the smart thing to do?

Maybe cops feel they can be indifferent/do an indifferent job so long as there is no crime occuring at the moment they arrive.

Probably ought to complain, bacchus, about the leisurely attitude the police took (though it'll probably end up in the circular file).

March 18, 2003, 06:54 PM
I've had a couple of occassions to talk to the police on incidents similar to this one. They've always asked me to stay on the line with the dispatcher, and in one I relayed info to the dispatcher that they immediately passed onto the officers via radios which helped nab the person they were looking for. They've also kept me up dated on what is going on "Officer x is on site; Officer y is on site; dog is being released; stay indoors - do not go outside and finally - they'd like you outside to make an identification. I'm surprised they let you hang up.

Average Guy
March 18, 2003, 07:21 PM
Interesting. I'll have to ask my wife her opinion on why they didn't take even a cursory look around.

Our back fence borders a major street; one night I heard noise and went to check it out--took a snubby and the cordless phone. Spotted four guys in hooded sweatshirts next to a running car. Called it in and was told that the car belonged to a house around the corner. "Doesn't explain why it's outside MY house," I said. By the time the cops arrived, the group was gone without incident (at least, any incident I would have been involved in).

OTOH, the police have arrived rather quickly in several other similar instances. On balance, I'm pleased. Yet armed. Not counting the Rotties. :evil:

March 18, 2003, 08:07 PM
Years back, we had a similar situation at my parents house on a regular basis. We lived beside a dirt road and cars would come down it and park behind our shop in the backyard on the outside of our fence. One night we watched where the driver was going. He would walk four houses down the road, climb up the side of the neighbors house and crawl into the daughters bedroom. We had that one figures out. His trip back to the truck was probably for his "protection" he forgot. :what: :evil:
Check your local neighbors for teenage daughters !!

March 18, 2003, 08:13 PM
You did fine.

ed dixon
March 18, 2003, 08:26 PM
Doesn't seem too probable anyone intended to do you harm. An intruder isn't likely to ring the doorbell. If not simply lost, my guess is this individual had been seriously imbibing earlier and wasn't sure exactly where he was or where he was going. That being possible, the cops should have assessed his state up close. The danger to others he'd meet down the road may have been very real.

March 18, 2003, 10:43 PM
You did good Bacchus. When I kept seeing the guy walking around that would have drove me crazy!:fire:

March 19, 2003, 08:35 PM
The only thing I would have done different was go outside and tell the police where you saw him disapear to.


March 19, 2003, 08:57 PM
I've always wondered about these situations. I still live with my parents (no, not proud) but when I move out on my own, if I'm living alone or with a room mate -- I'm deaf without my hearing-aids. I wonder how safe I'd be even with my guns? Probably need a dog or cat to alert me...who knows?:what:

March 20, 2003, 11:28 AM
I wouldn't count on a cat alerting me.

Might try an alarm that flashes, though a dog is cheaper (short term :D )

March 20, 2003, 12:52 PM
just a small anecdote.... i grew up in a neighborhood that had a lot of nice people, but also had its fair share of the criminal element, dealing drugs, peddling prostitutes, etc. so it wasn't too out of the ordinary to have 'trespassers' in our yard any time of day. the neighbors all had dogs that barked at anything that moved so we knew if we heard the dogs barking real closely there was someone/thing in our yard.
but we also have had police chase people through our yard more than once or twice as well. the k-9 unit was a treat.

but back to the topic.... i've got a makeshift sling on the shotgun so it hangs next to my bedroom door. if i have more than 2 seconds, i'd like to slap on a pair of pants, shove the 9mm in a IWB and grab the shotgun. if not, just the 9mm will have to do.

as a sidenote, should you decide to go for the shotgun, its advisable to stash extra shells at key points throughout the house, in case you are retreating and have run the shotgun dry.

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