A Threat at the Back Door Scared Away by Judi’s Hero Dog

by on January 11, 2019 · 12 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Judi Curry

Something happened this morning that I have feared for years. I am so disappointed how I handled it, and I am so grateful to the San Diego Police Department. This is what happened:

At approximately 6:25am I heard a noise but thought that it was one of my students.  I live on a corner, and there is construction happening across the alley from my house and I thought they were starting work on the house early – again – and got angry.  But then Shadow began barking – loudly – and in a tone that I have never heard  him use before.  I continued to get ready for the day, and still Shadow barked.

I finally walked to the kitchen and saw what Shadow was barking about. Standing at my back door was a young man – 21 or so; wearing a hoodie; and knocking at the door.  Fortunately I have a metal screen security door and even if he had been successful in breaking into the back door, he could not have had access to the house.

I asked him what he wanted; how did he get in the back yard. He said that the gate was unlocked.  I knew that was not true because I had locked it, and my student had also gone to check to make sure before we turned in for the night.  He told me that he had been given my address for a relative and he was just coming to see them.

I told him his relative was not here and he had better leave. And then I called 911.  As I was dialing, I noticed that he walked away from the back door and he could not open the gate for several reasons; the lock was still on the gate, and he was trying to “push” the gate open when it needed to be pulled to open.  He tried for several minutes before he was successful in leaving.

Dog door removed. Photos by Judi Curry.

Meanwhile, I was talking to the SDPD.  I am so disappointed in my answers, because I have always prided myself in being observant, but not this time.  I was asked how old he was: – my answer was about 21. Then he asked me what he was wearing.  I blanked.  I knew he was wearing a hoodie – asked what color and all I remembered was that it was a light color. (It turned out to be white.)  He asked me if he was clean shaven or if he had a beard.  I THOUGHT that he was clean shaven, but I wasn’t sure.  He asked me if he was wearing jeans or something else.  I didn’t remember.  He asked me what race he was and I was able to say that he was Caucasian.  He wanted to know what direction he went after leaving my backyard and I thought he went East on Tivoli, but I wasn’t sure.

The dispatcher kept me on the phone, asking questions periodically. He told me that there were three cars looking for him; he said he would not hang up until one of the officers came to the house.  I was shaking like a leaf – another surprise – and I could hear the tremors in my voice as I talked to him.    When I told him that a police car had stopped in front of the house he wished me a good day and disconnected the call.

The two officers, both female, were so comforting.  They asked the same questions; came into the house and into the yard. I discovered that the burglar had managed to removed the doggie door panel from the door, and that was what the noise was when Shadow first began barking.  And while I was talking to the policewomen a woman that lives on Pescadero – three blocks away – rang my doorbell.  She informed us that she was out jogging and saw a man JUMP OVER MY FENCE.  She said that the drapes were still closed and she didn’t think anyone was home and was going to call the police when she got back home. But, as fate would have it, as she was running back home she saw the police car out front and came to talk to us.  It made me feel better to know that jumped the fence; that I did not leave the gate unlocked.

The policewomen were wonderful.  They even asked to see Shadow, because if he had not barked the way he had I would not have known there was someone in the backyard.  When I opened the door for them to see him, he went right to both of them, with kisses and “hugs”. We remarked how he didn’t bark at them, uniforms and all, but barked at the intruder.

As they were leaving they assured me that there were cars out looking for the man, and they would keep me informed as to what was happening.  True to their word, less than 15 minutes later the doorbell rang and one of the officers asked me to step outside and see if I could recognize the man that was with the other officer.  I was too far away to see him well, and at first I was not sure it was him. But I asked if I could get closer, and after taking 20 steps or so it was the intruder.  The police officer told me that he would be taken to jail, and probably to detox, because he was either drunk or on drugs.  She thanked me for my help, and I apologized for not being more observant.

Now, several hours later, I am still shaky; nauseous, and so thankful for Shadow and the SDPD.  I feel sorry for the young man, but I do not know what he would have done if he had managed to climb in the doggie door.  I am so thankful for the security door; so thankful that the jogger stopped by the house to talk to us; so thankful that no one was hurt.  As secure as I have always been living on the corner with neighbors all around me, it goes to show when someone wants to get in they will find a way.  And I will work on being more observant for I really feel I let myself, and the neighborhood, down.  Not good for a newspaper reporter!  Have a good day, everyone.  At least one person is off the streets.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Neighbor January 11, 2019 at 2:36 pm

Judy – please post your Security Camera video or the incident.
And if you don’t have one – sounds like you’re overdue – especially if you have renters/students in your home.


Debbie January 11, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Glad you are safe!

When you go to answer the door grab your phone it video and record ….just in case.


Judi curry January 11, 2019 at 3:33 pm

Didn’t even think of camera. I talked to him for 5 minutes. Thought never went through my mind. It really shook me up.


Debra January 11, 2019 at 4:03 pm

Scary—so glad you are safe. Shadow deserves a steak!


korla eaquinta January 11, 2019 at 7:15 pm

Judi, I am so glad you are ok. You are lucky to have gotten such a prompt police response. When the naked man was banging on my back door it took over an hour for the police to show. After 22 minutes on with dispatch, I started crying as I knew I was on my own. My intruder final left after stealing the cover off one of my RV tires. I sure hope you have closed up that doggie door.


judi curry January 11, 2019 at 8:37 pm

The doggie door is usually closed at night since I had a raccoon come in and create havoc in the house. But I will always make sure that that security screen door is locked. I think that is what saved me, because he could have reached up and unlocked the door from the doggie door, but the locks to the screen door are in the inside. I am just glad he was caught. Thanks for your concern. Judi


Sandi January 11, 2019 at 10:04 pm

I’m so glad you’re okay. I teach brain states to my students: executive (thinking); emotional (fight or flight); and survival (shut down) to make them aware that the state they’re in affects their function. It sounds like you were in the emotional state (where I would be, too), where it is hard to be observant and take in details!

I like the idea of taking video. You might want to buy Mace also. You know how we do safety drills monthly at school? Practice carrying your protection, whatever it is, to the door so that it becomes automatic even under stress.

Hugs to Shadow. Good dog!


judi curry January 12, 2019 at 9:23 pm

The funny thing is that I had a can of MACE 20 feet from where I was standing. I bought it not for me, but for my female students that have to take the bus home in the dark. Again…nothing I thought about taking with me. After all, it was 6:30am; it was light, and I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing! I hope I’ve learned something from this! The “ring” will be installed this week. (But in hind sight – it would not do anything I didn’t do. He was caught!)


Rufus January 13, 2019 at 6:32 am

When seconds count, the police are minutes away.

What’s your plan to protect yourself while you’re waiting for the cops?

No need to be paranoid about it, but you should have a plan.


marc johnson January 13, 2019 at 7:22 am

Dogs rule, get another dog they work good as a team.


Debbie January 13, 2019 at 10:24 am

This might be helpful along with a security camera system which will allow you to see who is on your property and when. Also, steel door

Electronic Dog Door = These are similar to flap doors in terms of installation, but technology helps provide added safety. The door can slide up and down or the flap can open when triggered by a transmitter on your dog’s collar. If another animal (or person) without the sensor tries to enter, the door won’t open.


judi curry January 14, 2019 at 11:49 am

Didn’t know about the electronic dog door. Will look into it. Thanks.


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