MOUNT VERNON — An 82-year-old Mount Vernon man said he had two uninvited men enter his home last Saturday under similar circumstances as a Howard woman, reported earlier this week by the News.
The longtime Mount Vernon resident said he was sitting in his living room watching television when a man walked in his house.
“I’m sitting here watching the television and all the sudden I hear this voice say, ‘Is there anybody in here. I knocked but no one answered,’” he said. “I looked up from my chair and there he was standing in the archway.”
The homeowner said the man told him he had something he wanted him to see. A second man came in carrying a rolled up piece of linoleum, at least 8 feet long, he said.
“The one guy was holding one end and the other guy was unrolling it across in front of me,” he said. “Now I’m thinking right away they are doing this to blind me. I can’t see the rest of my house and there must be a third person out there stealing me blind.”
At that point, the Mount Vernon resident told the strangers to get the linoleum out from in front of him. The stranger, with a southern accent, insisted he feel the quality.
“I said ‘I don’t want to feel it. I want you to get the hell out of my house, right now,’” he said. “By that time I jerked part of [the linoleum] across from in front of me. ... I said ‘I’m going to the kitchen and I want you out of here now.’”
His strong stand worked and the uninvited guests departed.
“At the time, I was so mad I wasn’t worried whether something was going to happen to me or not. After I got to thinking about it, I thought I was really kind of lucky. There I am with two people in there, maybe a third one I didn’t know about, and I wasn’t thinking about my safety, I was just trying to get them out of my house,” he said. “It was scary.”
Both the incident in Howard, and the one in Mount Vernon, took place in the afternoon of June 12. Both homeowners stated two men in the mid- to late-50s were involved.
While reading the article in Thursday’s edition of the News, the Mount Vernon man said he was shocked to read what had happened to him.
“I read that and thought ‘My gosh, this is almost identical to what I told the policeman,’” he said.
Mount Vernon Police Chief Mike Merrilees said until the men involved can be questioned, he can’t be certain as to whether or not this was a case of pushy salesmen, a scam against the elderly or possible thieves.
“I assume it was some kind of theft they had in mind. I don’t know if that was just grabbing keys, money or small items. They didn’t seem to be there trying to scam people into buying because they didn’t make a push (for the sale),” Merrilees said.
If other residents encounter a similar situation, Merrilees encourages them to make the call to law enforcement.
“I would encourage people to call 9-1-1 and we go to the house,” he said. “If the people say they are from an organization and they check out, then they check out,” Merrilees said. “There is no reason for anybody to walk in your door without being asked to come in. There is no excuse for that at all — that’s criminal trespassing right there.”
The MVPD chief said that if anyone enters a resident’s home without permission, or refuses to leave, make the call to 9-1-1. If the intruders refuse, Merrilees suggests to go to a neighbor’s house to call 9-1-1.
“In both of these cases it was harmless but you should not have people in your house that you don’t know who they are, you don’t know what they are there for or you don’t know what you are up against while they are there,” Merrilees said. “People in the county have been a little unnerved since the murder (of Jean Davis). Better safe than sorry.”
Being assertive can go a long way in getting the point across.
“If the people are refusing to leave, tell them you are calling 9-1-1. ‘I’m calling the police get out of my house.’ Make noise; anything you need to do to get them out. People like that usually get rattled and they get out whether it is a scam or a theft ring or whatever they have going,” Merrilees said.
Remembering as many details about a person’s appearance or the vehicle they are traveling in can also help authorities. However, Merrilees reminds residents to never put themselves in harm’s way looking for the details.
“If you can get a license plate. Great. If you can call while they are there. Great. But I wouldn’t go to any risk of danger to get a license plate number. Even if they leave when asked, call us,” he said. “We’d love to identify them. If they aren’t doing anything wrong, technically, we can still get it squared away. If they are, we’d like to get a hold of them one way or the other just to identify them and to put people’s mind at ease who have read the story and to put people’s mind at ease who have been contacted.”