Cops Ring Bell at 3 A.M. to Let Man Know Door's Unlocked

A Lakeville man says he feels violated after two local police officers woke him up at 3 a.m. Thursday to tell him his door was unlocked.

"I was violated, but ... I wasn't physically damaged," Troy Molde told the St. Paul Pioneer Press about what he considers an invasion of privacy at his home in this Minneapolis suburb.

The officers’ surprise visit was part of a public service campaign to remind residents to secure their homes to prevent thefts. Usually, officers just left notices on doors, but they went further in Molde's case.

With four children under 7 having a sleep over in the house, police went into the home and up to Molde's bedroom and started knocking on the wall to wake him up.

The officers told Molde his garage door was open, the TV was on, keys to his truck were left in the ignition and the door to his house was ajar.

Molde said he immediately thought something was wrong. "I was just dazed," he said. "It's not a safe way of (police) protection."

Lakeville Police Sgt. Jim Puncochar said the intrusion was justified because the officers' initial door knocks were not answered, so they went inside to check if anything was wrong.

He said the kids inside — Molde's two sons and two nephews — were afraid to wake Molde, so the officers went upstairs themselves. "It really was suspicious," Puncochar said.

Puncochar said officers left pamphlets Thursday at eight other houses as a reminder of ways residents can avoid becoming crime victims. "We went there to determine that everyone was safe," Puncochar said.

Police say many crimes originate with open garage doors. In May, a 52-year-old Burnsville man was stabbed and left to die in his burning town house after two assailants entered his home at 4:30 a.m. by way of an open garage door.

Molde, 34, said he went upstairs to bed at midnight. He didn't shut the garage door, and he said he remembered leaving the doors to his house unlocked, but closed. The children fell asleep watching television.

Three hours later, police were in his bedroom to give him a reminder he won't soon forget. "I haven't figured out what I should do with it yet," Molde said.

Lakeville is about 25 miles south of downtown Minneapolis.