Just Another Guy with Opinions

Homeowner Thwarts Burglars

Posted by shadmia on February 15, 2009

Patrick Rosario

Patrick Rosario, 32, a recently laid-off employee of Washington Mutual, was alone at home doing some work in the basement. He heard noises coming from upstairs and went to check it out. That was when Rosario realized he was being robbed. He called 911. Then he discovered that the thieves’ van was outside, left running, with the keys in the ignition. Well Rosario did the first thing that came to his mind – He stole the van!! He drove it a few blocks away and waited for the police. According to him: “The good guys win for once.”

It all began on Tuesday afternoon when the former technology-program manager happened to be in the basement of his three-story home, building a fiberglass part for his stylized car. His wife, Jamie, was at work; his 2-year-old son, Thomas, at day care.

At around 1:35 p.m., Rosario heard what he thought was a knock at the front door. Then — a loud noise. For a second, he thought it might be the Thursday housekeepers, but then he realized it was only Tuesday. He walked up the stairs, peered through a one-inch opening under the door into the main living area, and saw a pair of unfamiliar jeans. Then, a sound he did recognize — the serpentine slap of electric cords against hardwood, as one of his three flat-screen TVs was being hoisted away.

Fortunately the thieves did not hear Rosario. Rosario hurried back downstairs, grabbing a hammer along the way for protection while dialing 911. He ran out the back door towards the front of the house and hid behind a garbage can. The 911 dispatcher was still with him on the phone when Rosario noticed the white Ford Windstar van parked in front of his house. The exhaust fumes were sputtering out of the idling vehicle. Rosario approached the unattended van and:

Against the 911 dispatcher’s advice, Rosario announced he was going to take it. What jury in the world was going to convict him, he thought?

He drove up a steep hill away from the house, figuring whoever was ransacking his home wouldn’t be able to keep up on foot. He stopped a few blocks away in front of a friend’s house and waited for the police.

Meanwhile, back at his home, a passing driver visiting an across-the-street neighbor saw the burglars exit the house. According to the detectives’ report, “the males looked back … and appeared startled.” The two fled the house toward busy Southeast Newport Way, leaving a pile of flat-screen TVs by the door, along with Rosario’s laptop, game consoles and his wife’s jewelry box.

“I kept a pretty cool head,” Rosario said. “You never know how you’re going to react until you’re in that situation.”

“I wish I could have seen the look on their faces,” Rosario said.

The suspects are still at large. Both are described as approximately 20 years old, about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds. Even as detectives took Rosario’s report, the story apparently was making the rounds. Rosario said he received more than a few high-fives from other responding officers.

“Two pulled up, and they looked over at me and go, ‘You stole their car — way to go, dude. That’s awesome.’ Another told me that I just made her month.”

King County Sheriff’s Department spokesman John Urquhart wouldn’t say whether Rosario’s actions were advisable. “We expect responsible adults to make their own decisions,” he said. “Clearly, this worked in this case, but in another case it might not have.”

Patrick Rosario also realizes that he was lucky and things could have turned out much differently. A day earlier and he’d have been napping with his young son. “I would have been trapped in my bedroom,” he said.

“I got lucky,” Rosario said. “In retrospect, it was pretty stupid.”

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