An Orcutt family is shaken after waking up to a man at their bedside stealing their possessions early Sunday morning. The family fought back.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says a man spotted a small opening in the kitchen window, popped the screen off and climbed inside, landing on the kitchen counter.
"It was obvious that we were home," said Tammy Jepsen, homeowner. "We had three cars and they were all in the driveway."
The Jepsen family has been living on Ken Avenue in Orcutt for years, but now they say their safety has been threatened.
"He entered through the kitchen window," Jepsen said. "He knocked all the stuff on the shelf down, broke some dishes. He walked around the house, picked up wallets, keys, Xbox, put it all in a bag and went into my bedroom and got a ring and my grandson’s cell phone."
That cell phone would later be the key to locating the suspect.
"I caught him at the door, he didn’t get it open in time," Jepsen told KSBY News. "I’m like, ‘What are you doing? Why are you in my house?’"
As the man was trying to break free, he broke the screen door.
"He was hitting me in the chest and said, ‘Let me go, let me go,’" Jepsen said.
The sheriff’s office says the man broke free, dropped most of the stolen items but ran off with the cell phone. The family called sheriff’s deputies right away and say they were able to track down his hiding spot using the phone’s tracking device.
"One driveway over from us," Jepsen said. "He was right there in the driveway."
Gerardo "Guillermo" Garcia, 18, was arrested on suspicion of robbery and burglary and booked into jail.
The family says they still feel violated.
"He could have harmed all of us. God was watching over us," Jepsen said.
Sheriff’s deputies say they found other stolen items in Garcia’s pockets but don’t know who they belong to.
The family has invested in dowels to help keep the windows locked.