“We’ve moved all of our cars inside the garage. Everything’s locked up tight,” said one neighbor.
Until Friday at 4 a.m., when, of those dozen homes, suspects chose the wrong one.
“It’s an irritating thing to have somebody breaking into your personal property,” said Ed Kelly, a 30-year veteran law enforcement officer.
When Kelly let his dog out to do her business, 4 1/2-pound Riley knew something was up. She barked and tugged toward a stranger in all black, rifling through her dad’s truck.
“I’m glad I was awake and alert, and at least able to run a little bit still,” Kelly said.
He chased after the burglar, but couldn’t keep up in his slippers. So he retreated home to call 911. That’s when a woman met him in his driveway, claiming to be another victim.
“She said, 'Oh, they tried to get into my car. I was waking up to feed my baby and I saw somebody out there,'” Kelly said.
Of course, that wasn’t the truth, Kelly says. He could sense it.
She gave an incorrect address to dispatchers, and, soon after, lunged for a backpack full of garage door remotes and a bike the burglar had left behind.
“This time I just tackled her in the street,” Kelly said.
El Dorado County deputies arrested 37-year-old Bobbie Ritola, with the help of Kelly. The retired assistant Elk Grove police chief carried out his first citizen's arrest.
“My wife came over and assisted until the police got there,” Kelly said.
Deputies say Ritola quickly ratted out her accomplices, 29-year-old Kalen White and 37-year-old Jereme Hale. The two were arrested in a Folsom hotel room, where police recovered a stash of stolen property from El Dorado, Sacramento and Placer counties, drug paraphenilia and uncapped hypodermic needles.
Ritola's 6-month-old was also with them. Officials report the suspects admitted they took the baby along to commit the crimes. The infant is with Child Protective Services.
The suspects were charged with possessing stolen property, conspiracy and child endangerment.