East Montpelier: Intrusions a violation, but not of the law
EAST MONTPELIER — A person can legally walk into anyone’s unlocked home in Vermont at any time as long as the intruder does not intend to take anything, say state police.
East Montpelier resident Heather Michaud found this out firsthand.
She was at home with her husband on Dec. 1 when a man, whom she described as in his mid-20s and wearing khaki pants and parted dark hair, walked right through her front door. No knocking. Just barged right in.
Michaud said her husband confronted the man and asked him what he was doing. The man then produced a wicker basket with a small bag of potato chips and some candy inside and said he was selling care packages.
Michaud said the situation seemed fishy, since the man did not make much eye contact, and her husband asked the man to leave. The man then got into a newer blue-green Dodge Caravan driven by another man whom she said also looked to be in his mid-20s, and they drove away.
Michaud said that if the men were there to burglarize the home, there is nothing in it that cannot be replaced. But she said she is concerned about what could have happened if her teenager had been home alone at the time.
Michaud said she called state police and wrote about the encounter on the online community board Front Porch Forum to warn the rest of the town about what had happened.
Michaud said others then posted on the forum about similar incidents they had experienced lately, including men matching the same description showing up at a home claiming to be home care workers.
Vermont State Police Lt. Paul White said Wednesday that what the man did Dec. 1 at Michaud’s house was not illegal. For the incident to be a crime, he said, the state police would have to show the man intended to steal from the home.
White said he would have liked to talk to the man to find out what he was doing there and to see if any surrounding houses had been broken into, but proving intent can be difficult.
White said the unexpected visit would have been a crime if Michaud’s property had been posted against trespassing.
Michaud said her family will be much more cautious from now on, including locking the doors even when they are home.
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