7News SPECIAL REPORT: Burglary in progress

Lawton_Imagine this: you're just getting home from work, and you see a man looking into the window of your neighbor's home.  Minutes later, you see him running from the house with a bag full of stuff.  What would you do?  Call the police, or look the other way?

A Lawton couple was just as curious, and allowed a 7News photographer to break into their home and take their belongings.  Our cameras were rolling when it happened.

At about five in the afternoon, on a sunny day in Lawton, David and Marlene Howard left their home and accidentally forgot to lock their front door.  It could happen to anyone, but this time, they did it on purpose.  A block away, they met up with our 7News team, and Lawton Police Officers as we sent our burglar to their home.  A short time later, they got to see the results for themselves.

They laughed as they watched our photographer peek through their front windows, and eventually enter their home.  The next time they saw him he was hauling off their belongings.  Our burglar made four trips in and out of the Howard's home, each time with a big bag of loot.  Police accompanied our team to monitor the situation for safety, and dispatchers waited for a call reporting the burglary.  But, no one called.  "I didn't see anybody suspecting a thing," says our burglar.  "They didn't come out, nobody came out."

Following the heist 7News asked neighbors if they saw anything.  Several weren't home at the time of our experiment, and others were inside their homes, oblivious to what was happening.  "It would have looked a little weird," says one neighbor.  "I can't say I would have called anybody.  I figured he was just moving out.  But, we know the people well enough to know he didn't belong there, so I probably would have done something - probably would have called 911."

But, was the lack of suspicion on the neighbors part because of how our burglar behaved?  "Definitely a lot more obvious than a normal burglar would be," says another neighbor.  "I don't think they would have parked their car right out in front of the house.  I think they would have tried to come in through the side of the house, or something.....through the backyard."

To be fair, one of David and Marlene's neighbors did notice something suspicious - one of our hidden photographers shooting video of the fake burglary.  Had he not seen the camera, things may have been different.  "I've never seen him in the neighborhood before," says Howard.  "He probably would have gotten his butt kicked.  It's tricky, because if I had figured out he was stealing something, I would probably have tried to detain him, or something."

Although this experiment was definitely not scientific, it was eye-opening for the Howards who feel this illustrates a perfect crime of opportunity.  "A person driving by might see us leaving, and well, there's an opportunity there," says Howard.  "Maybe the person forgot to lock the door, or left their garage door open."

The experiment really could have gone either way, depending on a number of factors.  For instance, had more neighbors been at home, or on the street, someone may have called 911.  The Howards say your best bet is to try and make your home as burglar proof as possible - using alarms, locking doors and windows, and maybe even getting a dog.