High Alert

This is the view from outside my #1 son’s window a couple of mornings ago:

Nobody can remember seeing those paving stones upturned the night before. I got home around 7:30pm and almost the entire family was in the driveway to meet me. I think we would have noticed. I know we would have noticed this:

because none of us smoke. I’ve never seen my neighbor on that side of the house smoke either. The wind blew them away, but when we first saw it there was a pile of ashes by the cigarette butt where it had been ground out.

So it is undeniable that sometime that night there was someone standing outside my son’s window who shouldn’t have been there. Usually we close the blinds, but that night we didn’t. So the pervy hypothesis is fairly disturbing. The thing is, this is a “very safe neighborhood.” The only foot traffic in my cul-de-sac is joggers, walkers, and walkers walking their walking dogs. An army of landscapers descends on our lawns every morning and are gone usually by mid-day. At night, there is no one about. I know because I work all hours of the day and night and I would have seen any regulars. The scariest person in this neighborhood is me; a nerd with too many guns. However, for the past couple of days this is me:

"MOM! We're on high alert here! I almost just killed you right there, you do not even realize!"

"MOM! We're on high alert here! I almost just killed you right there, you do not even realize!"

What gets me is the paving stones. Why are they upturned? Why are three of them, in separate spots upturned? The cigarette butt being left is weird too, but I could write that off to an unconscious act by a habitual smoker. But the stones?

I actually got a pretty good answer to that question from one of the experts I know, but wanted to ask for some more opinions and not taint the jury pool. So let me know in the comments what you think was going on and whether I should stay on High Alert.

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  • Jennifer  On September 1, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Hmm. Very odd. I really have no idea, but it would put me on alert too.

  • Pat  On September 2, 2010 at 7:51 am

    Got your link from Borepatch. Kinda Freaky.

    Looks like someone may have been searching for a hidden key. Since under rocks is a common hiding spot.

  • divemedic  On September 2, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Window locks like these work great:

    I would be a little nervous as well.

  • Six  On September 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    He wants you to know he was there and what he was doing. My professional opinion is you’re looking at someone who knows you, either a neighbor or one of the landscapers. He clearly wasn’t concerned about hiding his presence (I say he because statistically this type of behavior is almost exclusively done by men). It is thrill seeking and, please forgive me for saying so, certainly sexual in nature. It is intended to terrorize. He is getting his thrill from that and the possibility of being caught. He is highly dangerous and you should take this very, very seriously. Move your son, make sure you’ve got good window locks, install flood lights above easy reach, keep the blinds drawn, work with your local police department (get a crime prevention survey if they’ve got an expert), get a barky dog if you can, vary your daily routine and that of every one of your family and talk to your neighbors. Ask them to watch your house, especially at night. Set your alarm for 0 dark thirty for a while and make quiet rounds. Armed rounds. Get a camera and mount it in your sons room to peek through the blinds.
    This guy won’t go away easily. He may be fixated and that makes him unpredictable. You must set conditions that convinces him to turn his attentions elsewhere or gather enough information to allow the police to make an arrest. If you have any questions or need any more information please contact me. I’m a retired 24 year veteran police officer and a crime prevention expert and I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

  • mick  On September 2, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Whatever is going on, it’s a very sloppy attempt. The tradecraft here is not very sophisticated. There are not a lot of brains at work here unless this is an overt attempt to scare you. Review your enemies list. If you haven’t pissed anybody off in the recent past, then it’s probably a low-brow threat that may even be random. You might adjust your defense tactics depending on how you judge this. Bore Patch suggested a motion-sensor light, which would scare the perp back and tell him you were on to him. Maybe that and a “This house guarded by Smith & Wesson three nights a week. You guess which three” would certainly put him on notice.

    If those two things (one does not require literacy) didn’t stop this, then you’ve got something much more serious going on.

  • Sailorcurt  On September 2, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    That’s what I thought too…looking for a key.

    Motion activated lights on the corners of the house would be a real good idea.

  • Andy  On September 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    One thing I’ve thought about doing is to put up one of those infrared deer cameras hunters use. They range from $100 to $300 depending on features, but they are intended to be strapped to trees, run off of batteries for six months or so, and take photos and videos based on motion detection. At least that’s what I think they do. They can be had at Cabelas, Bass Pro, etc… Just a thought.

  • trackerk  On September 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Those are lots of good ideas about what went on and some good suggestions on what to do about it. Obviously I can’t spell out what kind of security we have, but “defense in depth” is our guiding rule. I am implementing some of your suggestions though, so keep them coming.

    About the only suggestion I can’t implement is mick’s Smith & Wesson sign. The parents of some of my kids friends would freak out because even in Oklahoma we have GFWs. Not many, but a few. I will get the alarm company to give me some more stake signs. There is one by the front door, but not over on that side of the house.

    I showed one of my instructors the pictures and he had the least threatening interpretation of anyone so far:

    “I think the stones were turned over because in the dark they stepped on them and turned them over, but didn’t care to fix them or didn’t realize it. The activity of a beginner, a passerby, or someone on a drug or alcohol.”

    Eric’s comment made my wife want to practice clearing the house again :-). We had a Tulsa police officer come in when we first bought the house and help us formulate an intruder plan. Guess we will break out the airsoft and make sure it still works.

    Thanks for the comments. I really appreciate it.

  • joe  On September 2, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    If you put up cameras, a clock in the field of view provides a backup timestamp on the image.

  • Sarah  On September 2, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    I’d think that, if he were looking for a key, he’d turn over more than three stones before giving up. Seems to me like the “stepped on ’em” explanation given above is probably the best.

    Maybe you should talk with your son – see if any new people have tried to befriend him lately, or if any old ones have been acting weird lately. Don’t know you and your family, so I don’t know if it’s the sort of thing that he’d run shrieking to tell you the second it happened or not.

  • Mr. B  On September 3, 2010 at 9:12 am

    You might consider planting (or use large shallow pots for the same effect) thorn bushes or long needled catcti as a deterrent. In the dark, these are a VERY nasty suprise to an intruder or peeper. And, they are decorative plants, not barbed or razor wire, so you have much less liability should the injured party ever try to use the courts for revenge.

    Relaively cheap non lethal deterrants. But effective.

  • Jim  On September 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    The idea of a yard-deep strip of fine gravel (like for a fish tank) raked to a distinct pattern (as with a uniquely shaped tool) would offer a deterrent at least that far out.


    • trackerk  On September 3, 2010 at 6:43 pm

      I like that idea. Like a ‘track trap’ we would use in the woods to find the critters.

  • Jim  On September 3, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Better yet, two different-coloured layers: No matter how well a person could put the shape back the mixed-up colours are a dead giveaway.


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