Homeowner Confronted by Burglar in Boxers

POSTED: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:59pm

A homeowner knew something was amiss when he came home, opened his garage door and found a white Lexus that wasn't his parked in the garage. He couldn't have predicted what happened next. "[I] came home from being out all day," homeowner David Strickland said. "I open up my garage door and there was a strange car in there."

Strickland says he didn't think too much of it at first. His house was for sale and he had a pair of showings that Monday, Nov. 9, so he thought it might have had something to do with that. Golden Police say Strickland went into his master bedroom and found several items out of place.

"I was near where I keep my firearms," Stickland said. "I prepared to have to defend myself because I thought somebody was intruding on the house at that time." After leaving his bedroom, he walked into the living room and called out as he walked.

"There was still a possibility it was associated with the showings that I had," Strickland said. To Strickland's surprise, police say, a man's voice called back. "He said, 'Hello.' That's all he said. And then he came from around the corner at the top of the stairs with nothing but a pair of boxer shorts on," Strickland said.

Police say the intruder was wearing Strickland's boxer shorts. That's when things got even more bizarre. "I said, 'Come downstairs, sit down here while we call the police.' And this guy started ranting about him being the owner of the home and that he was going to come down here and kick me out of the house, Strickland said, "Because I was intruding on his home."

The intruder argued and authorities say he claimed the gun was fake. Strickland says he thought the man was "whacked out" and mentally "very out there," but he couldn't put his finger on it. "I think the thought was, 'This is really strange, it's almost like, I can't believe this is happening,' but I knew I just needed to be cool about it and not over-react," Strickland said. "I knew I was going to protect myself and the home."

Police say that's when the man moved aggressively toward the homeowner. Strickland fired a warning shot, purposely away from the suspect. Police arrived a short time later to find the homeowner holding the intruder at gunpoint.

The intruder told the officer over and over that he was the homeowner; that he had purchased the home that day. Police handcuffed him and asked his name. First the intruder said he was Jim Jones, but then said he was Jim Smith, after seeing the name on the for sale sign in front of the house.

Police later identified him as 24-year-old Timothy P. Gonzales. Police say he had spent most of the day at the residence, showered, did his laundry and even put a few of his own items in the refrigerator, including a six-pack of Miller High Life, according to authorities.

They say three of the beers were missing and one was open and partially consumed. "This isn't a normal everyday occurrence," Golden Police Spokesman Jeff Hesalroad said. "This is rather strange. You have a person who gets into this house, shuts the garage door and stays there pretty much all day long, making the house his own."

Police say they found materials commonly used to make methamphetamine on the work bench in the garage. Upstairs, they found a few keys that did not belong to Strickland, $40 and a black wallet with Gonzales's identification inside of it, two checkbooks belonging to Gonzales, and the business cards of two Realtors who had shown the home that day.

As police continued to investigate, they learned Gonzales told the real estate agents he was homeowner when they came by with their clients to show the home.
Police say there was also a bag of what appeared to be methamphetamine on the counter. Authorities say drugs could have played a role in this incident. Gonzales was booked into the Jefferson County Jail for burglary, possession of burglary tools and drug violations. The Jefferson County District Attorney's office was considering charges.

Police are still not sure how Gonzales got into the home. The homeowner tells us the burglar could have somehow obtained the lockbox combination.

I spoke with the company that gives that information to Realtors who show the home. The owner said that would be "extremely improbable."

According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Gonzales does have a criminal history. His charges include assault and possession of a controlled substance.