Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

B.C. teen sleeping with the lights on after terrifying break-in

Aftermath of intrusion still causing anxiety for Langley teen

When Langley City resident Judy heard her daughter Emma scream, she thought the 17-year-old had seen a spider.

Then she heard Emma yelling, “get out, get out!”

The teen was yelling at a man who was trying to climb in through her second-storey bedroom window.

It was shortly after 11 p.m.

The casement window was open because it was a warm night and Emma’s south-facing bedroom is the hottest room in the Langley City house.

“It was a couple of days after school was out for the summer and was one of those super hot nights, so upstairs windows were open as we don’t have a/c,” said Judy, who asked that her last name and the real name of her daughter not be published.

Her husband came running in time to see the man jumping over the back fence into neighbouring yards and across another fence before sprinting out to the road toward a nearby park.

RCMP arrived in minutes.

“The police were absolutely excellent,” Judy said.

“They had the police dog here right away.”

The dog was able to follow the scent until it crossed into a heavy foot traffic area in nearby Brydon Park.

One frustrated police officer told Judy that he wished he could turn himself into a helicopter to look for the suspect.

That was in late June, shortly after school closed for the summer.

More than a month later, even with the assistance of victim services, the after-effects of the attempted break-in still have the 17-year-old rattled.

“I had just turned off the light,” Emma told the Times.

Then she saw a shadow move and realized a man was climbing in through her window.

He was in all black or dark clothing and had his hoodie pulled up over his face.

“I was so scared I could barely move,” Emma said.

Then she started yelling and the man fled.

At first, she thought she was fine.

She spent the weekend with her grandparents, then came home and immediately suffered an anxiety attack, re-living the feeling of going into shock when she saw a shadow and realized someone was in her room.

“I went into panic mode,” Emma said.

“I started freaking out. I was screaming and carrying on.”

When she couldn’t shake it, her father and grandfather took her to the hospital ER.

Sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, the anxiety continued until someone found her a quiet room where she could sit with her back to the wall.

After about three hours, Emma was able to go home.

“I slept with the lights on for at least a week,” she said.

“If I was home alone, I would have to have the wall behind me. I felt like I had to lock the windows and keep the lights on.”

These days, she’s OK, she said, but there will be moments where the fear comes flashing back.

“It’s a come-and-go thing” Emma said.

“Most of the summer, I have been struggling with anxiety.”

The family has taken steps to make a repeat invasion through a window impossible.

They decided to tell their story after the Langley RCMP issued a public warning about burglars gaining entrance through unlocked windows.

“Even though it is unbearably hot during the night, residents are cautioned to consider home security,” said Langley RCMP Cpl. Holly Largy.

“If you are going to leave a window open … you should employ some kind of security brace and only leave the window open a couple inches.”

Police suggest residents ‘make the rounds’ before going to bed each night:

  • Have you taken valuables and garage door openers out of your car?
  • Is your car parked in the driveway or garage and is it locked?
  • Are the doors to the house locked?
  • Are windows braced or closed and locked on the main level?

Consider making yourself a security checklist to keep your property and family safe, they advise.

There have been a number of complaints of screens having been removed or cut from ground floor windows in the Langley City area.

Earlier this month, a house in Murrayville was robbed while the owners were sleeping. A laptop, wallet and cash were taken.

It appeared the suspects gained entry through the home office window and nothing was heard likely due to fans and air conditioning units.

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dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

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