Sunday, September 04, 2011

Not In My Backyard

There are people who are supposed to be in my backyard. And then there are people who should not be there. By owning a resort on 45-acres of property with a sign on the main road directing traffic to it, I’m accustomed to keeping my eye on all who enter. Each time I spy a body, I ask myself, do they belong—i.e. are they registered guests? Are they visitors? Customers? Potential guests?

Or, are they trespassers?

We get our fair share of trespassers at Sandy Point Resort, particularly on hot summer days when the beach looks very inviting. Often I have neighbors call and ask if they or their kids can use our beach, and I explain that our facilities are for registered guests only. Mostly they understand—occasionally they are incredulous at my denial—and sometimes they don’t even bother to ask. They just show up with their beach towels.

Regardless, count “policing the property” one of many jobs of the resort owner.

I didn’t expect that to be part of my job in Tucson, however. But the other day I had a Halt-Who-Goes-There-Moment, and I’m still very uncomfortable about the whole thing and would appreciate some advice. Here’s what happened:

While working at my desk, which is located next to an enormous, blind-shaded picture window, I sensed movement—a body walking by. It was Friday around noon, so my first thought was that it was the pool lady. But I dismissed the idea because this was nowhere near the pool, or the gate she normally uses each Friday. So, I turned to the window and door behind me, and as the body rounded the corner I saw that it was no lady—pool or otherwise.

It was a very tall young man who was wearing nothing but green swim trunks and a pair of suede slippers. At a swift pace, he was moving toward the gate.

My instincts took over and I opened the door behind me, stepped outside and yelled, “Hey! What are you doing here?”

The green giant with wide-set eyes and close-cropped hair froze at the gate. “I heard a loud noise, ma’am—a bang—and I was just checking it out,” he said quickly. There was a hint of a southern accent.

“What?!” That made no sense to me. “Where?”

He reached across his tan, bare chest with his left arm and pointed to our guesthouse. “Right there,” he said.

I didn’t look in the direction he had pointed because my eyes already spied the red and yellow painted glass pipe and red Bic lighter in his right hand. I narrowed my eyes and seethed.

“Have you been smoking dope in my yard?”

“No, ma’am. No!” He cried. “I was over there in the abandoned house. He made a swirling motion.

“Right. Like I believe that,” I said with a scoff. “Listen to me, I know who you are.” And I called him by name.

“No! That’s not my name. That’s not me,” he said.

“Then what is your name?”

He gave me an alias—a name I’d never heard and frankly don’t remember. It didn’t matter to me. I knew who he was and am aware of his reputation. “Listen you,” I said, “get out of here right now and don’t come back. If I catch you here again, I’m calling the cops.”

“Yes, ma’am!” And then the half naked intruder on slipper-clad feet, fled into the desert. I exhaled with disgust, slammed the gate for effect and went back inside.

But it didn’t end there. Immediately I spotted him once again! He was in my backyard and dodging under the ramada of the guesthouse.

Now that really pissed me off. Not only did he lie to me about who he was, I had told him not to come back, and yet he was back in less than a minute. So, this time I went out a different door and yelled at him again.

“Hey! What did I say?”

He reached down and grabbed a dark blue shirt, pivoted and made his way back to the five-foot stucco wall near our pool equipment. As he scaled the wall, hurling his long limbs over the top, he called over his shoulder, “I’m sorry, Miss, I just needed to get my shit!”

Stunned, I stood there for a moment recalling the day I chased away a coyote from our yard who, moments earlier, had had my five-pound chihuahua in its mouth, and it dawned on me that this time, he had called me “Miss” rather than “Ma’am.”

I went inside and called 9-1-1.

By the time the sheriff arrived, the stoner slipper-boy was, of course, long gone. I gave the sheriff his name and said he had denied that’s who he was. And since I’ve had virtually no prior interaction with this kid, I wasn’t 100% sure my identification was correct.

But then I checked Facebook, and I tell you, it was like looking at a mug shot.

Now I am 100% certain that I know who it was smoking in my yard and most likely, about to go for a swim. Also, our suspicions as to the responsible party for leaving a half a case of beer bottles and bottle tops littered on the grounds and just outside the gate before we returned from Wisconsin have been greatly narrowed.

I’m not sure what my next step will be or should be, but I’m open to suggestion.

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Anonymous said...

Well, it looks like he thought no one was home and was going for a swim - I don't think it's more complicated than that. I guess your only recourse are security cameras - with signs posted so that he knows he's being watched and will be prosecuted - and maybe state the fine or the penalty so that he knows there are consequences. Why not post a message on his facebook page to that effect? You don't have to accuse him of anything directly - that way his "friends" will be made similarly aware.

Ricky Ferroni and Jessica Swift said...

We also had a tall young man in our yard one night! I was taking our dog, Claude, out to pee before bed. It was dark and we have skunks so I put him on the leash and went out the front door. Claude lunged and growled at our backyard gate and I turned just in time to see a tall young guy run right past me. He was so close that I could see the burning ember of the cigarette in his hand. I yelled at him, "Hey buddy, you can't be back here!" He ran down the street so I ran inside and yelled to Rick what had happened and before I knew it Rick had taken off after the kid in nothing but boxer briefs and croc sandals! The dog was dying for me to unleash him so that he could get in on the action. Ricky was almost able to catch the intruder but he lost a croc at a crucial moment :o) We solved this issue (because Ricky and his brother knew who the kid was and his reputation, too) by Ricky and his brother finding the guy walking the neighborhood. Rick was on foot with the dog and AJ was in the car--they found him and confronted him about why he was on our property (which he definitely was because the backyard gate was wide open!). He lied so Rick and AJ used the old Italian tactics of "scare the kid shitless" so he wouldn't even think about coming back into the yard. I was told that during the interaction our dog was also growling, hair-up, almost foaming at the mouth because he is so protective of us. I think the dog alone sealed the deal to keep that guy out of our yard. I was just happy Rick was home that night! All of our lights were off because we'd watched a movie and I think that guy was hanging around our basement door to scope out the place (as we've had some cars broken into in the past, also).
As for advice for you, I would definitely have the cops involved as he seems to have designated your yard for his vices. Keep your doors locked when you're inside and pull the shades at night. Hopefully you won't see him again, but if you do, have a camera handy and document it. He should be arrested for trespassing if he can't take the hint.