Placer County Sheriffs deputies say real estate agent Audrey Baker was trusting her instincts to call 9-1-1 when she felt something was wrong as she prepared to show a house to a potential buyer in Applegate.
Baker discovered the lock box containing the keys to the house was missing, and she found a beverage can with cigarette butts on the back porch. She also found the sliding glass door was open.
"The hair on the back of my neck stood up and said 'don't enter'," Baker told FOX40.
Deputies found four people asleep in the home. They claimed they were homeless and needed a place to stay. But deputies also found burglary tools, gloves, masks and two-way radios in the house. They also found meth, heroin and a scale.
"They were drug addicts...they were withdrawing from drugs and that could be a very dangerous situation, there could be violence," Placer County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Dena Irwin said.
Baker said the suspects were yelling and belligerent as they were taken away by deputies.
The intruders could have been in the home up to five days before Baker arrived. There were beer cans and pizza boxes throughout the house.
Baker said she's walked in on squatters before in vacant homes on the market.
There are about ten vacant properties for sale in the Applegate area, alone.
Baker says the turnover time is lengthy.
"We’re talking three months of vacancy. You know, we have to make sure that real estate agents go in, check on their homes," Baker said.
Deputies wants neighbors to be watchful, but say that's difficult to do in areas where there are large properties hidden from the street. They ask neighbors to give them a call even if there are cars that are suddenly new to the area.
"We’d rather come out and have it be nothing, than to have someone breaking into a house,” Irwin said.
As for the potential buyers, they stuck around during the arrests and investigation. Baker said they ended up making an offer on the house, despite the unwelcome visitors.