Katie Hamilton had heard noises at night recently and assumed she had deer in the backyard of her Pleasant Valley home.
Then her dogs started going nuts in the dark.
Again, she assumed it was wildlife upsetting them.
She was thinking much differently Wednesday after her son went into the crawl space under her home of 22 years to fix a wiring issue.
What they discovered was scary and creepy and a warning to anyone with an unsecured crawl space.
“We went under the house and found an empty beer can which was very clean,” Katie said. “And we found three wooden stakes, each burned on the ends.”
This I had to see, so I drove over to her home.
We pushed open the plywood access door in her backyard and climbed under the house.
Sure enough, there was a clean Budweiser can in the gravel next to her furnace and wooden stakes, burned on their pointed ends.
She found other stuff, like an empty box of cigarettes and rags and even an odd square cut from packing material with a hole burned in it.
What the heck has been going on under her house?
“It’s kind of creepy,” Katie said. “It looks like people have been coming and going.”
It all adds up . . . the noises in the night, the barking dogs, the paraphernalia under the house.
“I’m wondering if someone is going under my house to do drugs,” she said.
Katie said she goes under the house monthly to change her furnace filter.
“I would have seen it,” she said. “This stuff wasn’t here.”
Her home backs up to an alley and though the yard is fenced, access to the plywood door would be simple.
And given Katie’s observations in recent months, the idea of intruders seems plausible. The alley seems to have become a drifter highway. She often sees strangers walking back there, or on bikes, even pulling wagons with stuff in them.
“I hate to say it but it seems like things are getting worse,” she said.
Soon as she made her troubling discovery, Katie sounded an alarm.
She alerted the Pleasant Valley Neighborhood Association which posted a warning on its website.
Dawn Sandoval, a member of the association board, praised Katie for getting word out to the neighborhood.
“It’s very shocking,” Dawn said. “People need to know.”
Then, Katie got busy securing her home. She hired a contractor to install a security door on her crawl space so she no longer has to worry about intruders.
But, like a good neighbor, she’s worried about those around her.
“We have some older neighbors,” Katie said. “I wouldn’t want this happening to them.”