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Would-be Valencia burglar held at gun point

Home owner catches ‘hot prowl’ robbers in the act

Posted: January 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Dave Collins describes his ordeal with "hot prowl" burglars outside his Valencia home on Monday. Collins scared off the burglars with his firearm.

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The morning Dave Collins caught burglars breaking into his Valencia home was the day he found himself holding a gun pointed at one of the culprits, not really sure of what he should do, he said.

That’s before he ever heard of “hot prowl burglary” — a term used by law-enforcement officials to describe a burglary conducted while the homeowner is present.

Since December, there have been at least three separate incidents of “hot prowl burglaries” in the Santa Clarita Valley, one in Valencia and two in Stevenson Ranch.

Burglar confronted

Dave Collins, married with two young children, lives on a quiet cul-de-sac just west of Granary Square near Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.

On a weekday before Christmas, he woke when he heard a surveillance alarm go off.

Collins has four alarms installed by his garage, side gate, backyard and shed.

When he checked the gate at the side of his house he saw a young man, he said.

“So I stand there watching him and as I’m watching him my wife comes out and says there’s someone in our backyard trying to break in at the side (of the house),” he said.

As he learned later, his wife had come face to face with a second burglar, a young woman, trying to get into the house.

“So I run back in the house and I did grab my weapon, I grabbed my gun,” he said.

Collins said he caught up with one of the burglars in his front yard and held him briefly at gunpoint as his wife phoned 911.

Waiting for deputies, he realized he wasn’t going to shoot the intruder, he said.

Concerned about the other burglar, Collins ran back into the house.

The man detained at gunpoint ran to a paseo at the end of the street, he said, while the “girl” emerged from the backyard and ran the other way.

Collins found his shed had been ransacked.

“All my stuff was pulled out,” he said. “There were rakes and boxes and Christmas ornaments all on the ground.”

Sheriff’s deputies took a report of the incident, he said, but since no one was hurt and nothing taken, there’s been no apparent movement in the case.

“It still stresses me out,” Collins said.

Startled intruder

In December, a Valencia homeowner in the neighborhood of Orchard Village Road north of Lyons Avenue contacted sheriff’s deputies about a daytime burglary at his home.

The thief stole $6,000 worth of items from his home, he said, including three guitars and a flat-screen TV.

Since January, local sheriff’s deputies have been called to investigate two “hot prowl” burglaries in Stevenson Ranch.

At last check, detectives were trying to determine if the two were related, said Deputy Josh Dubin.

On Jan. 7, shortly after 10:40 a.m., deputies received a report of two men breaking into a home on Sagecrest Circle near The Old Road, according to deputies.

The only description deputies have to go on were that the suspects wore black sweatshirts and one also wore gloves.

The homeowner reportedly yelled at the suspects as they got away.

Burglar photographed

Four days earlier, on Jan. 3, deputies responded to another “hot prowl burglary” in the 26100 block of Quartz Meza Lane in the unincorporated area of the Santa Clarita Valley, Dubin said at the time.

Detectives released a photograph of a man they want to question in connection with that burglary.

According to investigators, the brazen burglar startled a homeowner in Stevenson Ranch when he broke into her home and stole her purse, Dubin said.

The victim reported she was upstairs in her home doing chores. While inside her second-story bedroom she heard footsteps and unusual movement coming from the kitchen area downstairs, he said.

She shouted downstairs for the persons to identify themselves. Once the victim shouted, two suspects ran out of the kitchen and exited the victim’s residence carrying her purse, Dubin said in a news release.

She ran downstairs and confronted the two suspects in the front yard of her residence and ripped her purse away from one of the suspects.

The distraught homeowner used her cellphone to take a photo of the suspect’s vehicle license plate.

Deputies are still trying to identify and locate the purse-snatching burglar.

No ‘hot prowl’ trend

Capt. Paul Becker was asked about “hot prowl” burglaries a couple of weeks ago when reflecting on year-end crime statistics released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“Burglaries are up by 5 percent,” Becker said, referring to a change this year compared to last year.

“But we haven’t had a trend in hot prowl burglaries,” he said, citing one of the two Stevenson Ranch incidents.

Hot prowl burglaries are considered especially dangerous by law enforcement because of the potential for a violent altercation to erupt between the occupant and the offender, according to a public warning issued by Dubin in a news release earlier this month.


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