Even if you’re not usually absent-minded, you’ve probably felt the momentary confusion of arriving at home only to find a light was left on. You thought you’d turned it off before you left, but did you just have a brain fart and forget? Did your spouse or one of the kids leave it on? These common oversights can often make your skin crawl for a few moments as you wonder if someone was inside while you were gone. Coming home to an open front door, however, is a more concerning sign that something or someone has been there. You’re incredibly vigilant about locking everything up before you leave, but here comes that eerie feeling again. Did you screw up and forget to lock it this time, or are you about to walk in on an intruder?

You swallow and step back to see if you notice anything else out of place. You think about calling out “Hello?” for a second, but hesitate since you could potentially be alerting an uninvited (and possibly armed) guest to your presence. You’d hoped this would be a simple house-sitting gig for a friend, but you may now have stumbled upon a burglary in progress. What do you do?

The Scenario:


Possible burglary




Your friend’s house




Snowy and windy; high 38 degrees F, low 12 degrees F

The Setup: A wealthy friend of yours has gone out of town for the holidays and left their house in your care while they’re on vacation visiting relatives. You agreed to check on it every day until they return (except Christmas) to feed the cat, make sure the heater hasn’t broken down, collect mail and any packages that’ve arrived, and perform a general inspection to make sure nothing is out of order. Your friend has told you that they’ve been the victim of porch pirates more than once, so this being the holiday season, the potential for theft is higher.

The house is a bit secluded, and up a winding mountain road with no neighbors in the immediate line of sight or within earshot of any potential disturbances.

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