Cowritten by Seth Foerstner and Lauren Flum
You return to your house with your roommates after a long night out on the town. You walk into your living room and you are about to take a seat when you notice that something is not quite right–someone is asleep on your couch. Maybe it’s your other roommate who decided to stay in that night. Perhaps it is a friend who was at your house earlier in the day and came back unbeknownst to you. Then you have a horrifying realization–you do not know this person and your roommates don’t either. After the initial shock and confusion subsides, you regretfully conclude: I should have locked the damned door.
Drunken home-intrusion is commonplace in college towns. Bars and house-parties are prevalent, and students often find themselves walking home late at night. In an environment which caters to the party culture of university students, some inebriated individuals may stray off-course on their way home.
The stories that we have documented here are specific to Ohio University, but these types of intrusions occur everywhere. Navigating familiar streets in a college town is fairly simple, especially during the day when you’re sober. Navigating those same streets after six gin and tonics and four PBR’s is a whole other ballgame. Typically, the interlopers cannot recall the events preceding the break-in with deep clarity. The victims of these intrusions, however, have some interesting tales to tell.
Natalie Butko, a Junior at Ohio University came home around three a.m. on a Monday night. There is a screened in porch on the outside of her house, and she has a “porch couch”– as most college students do. When she looked over she saw a man wearing nothing but his boxers asleep on the couch. “I was terrified at first,” Butko says. “The last thing that I expected to see was this guy laying there basically naked.”
She tried to nudge him awake and ask where he was from, but the only response from the unidentified man was “I’m sleeping,” and “Stephens, man. Stephens.” (Stephens is a local bar down the road from Butko’s home– a popular destination for massive cocktails like the “Destroyer.”) After a few minutes of persistent nudging and attempts to wake up the naked sleeper, he began to get aggressive.
“I went in my house and locked the door and woke up one of my roommates and we were just like ‘we need to get this man out,’” Butko says. “We didn’t want to get the cops involved because we didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.” Butko and her roommate returned to the porch and forced the man to wake up. Not only was he missing his clothes and shoes, but his phone and wallet were also unaccounted for.
After sending the semi-nude man away, they changed their mind about getting the police involved. “We got worried for the guy and thought maybe we should call the cops, and we did, but the cops never found him.”
Incidents like this often go unreported. It seems that most people choose to handle the situation themselves. According to the 2016 Athens Police Report, there is an average of 65 alcohol-related crimes, 386 “drunk” calls, and 101 reports of trespassing per year. A majority of these calls happen on Fridays and Saturdays between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., however it is difficult to determine which of these reports are related to drunken break-ins, because a majority of the time the trespasser flees before the police become involved.
Matt Carlson and Tim Crisman, both Juniors at OU and current roommates, have had several break-ins since moving into their house over the summer, but only one resulted in a call to the police.
“This was on Halloween weekend which is like the worst weekend ever for me. OU people already don’t like Halloween that much because of how it is,” Chrisman says. “It’s just too much sometimes.” Halloween at OU is one of the largest block parties in the United States, nearly doubling the population of Athens overnight. With so many out-of-town visitors, the amount of crime and break-ins increases dramatically.
Chrisman returned to his home at three in the morning. Shortly after falling asleep, he awoke to a large commotion and screaming downstairs. He went down to the living room and saw that a large man had punched through their window and forced his way into the house. “This guy was screaming in all of our faces saying stuff like ‘I’ve been doing so much blow,’ so he was super coked out and super aggressive,” Chrisman says. “Literally it took like five of us trying to hold him back and he’s screaming in everyone’s faces and we’re screaming in his face.”
As the screaming match proceeded, the man pointed to someone in the room and declared that he would only talk to him from now on. “It was one of my cousin’s friends that didn’t even live there,” Chrisman says with a confused laugh. The argument continued to escalate until Chrisman made the decision to call the police. “I called the cops and he ran away as soon as they came,” Chrisman says. “He was so coked out that he didn’t even know what he was doing. We put the couch in front of the window to keep it from happening again.”
During Siblings Weekend, a similar story took place at their house. A man with his pants down to his knees knocked on the front door and asked if Dan was there, however no one in the house was named Dan. Upon further inspection, we found that Dan was one of the previous tenants. He pushed past Chrisman and Carlson and started yelling through the house asking for Dan. The drunken pants-less man was eventually kicked out of the house, only to break in through another door moments later and sprint over to the couch and lay down.
“We were like ‘you cannot do that here’ and he whined and said ‘I just want to see my buddies’ but his buddies were not in our house,” Chrisman says. “So we had to throw him out and lock all the doors again. Big weekends are just not good.”
But Chrisman and Carlson had more stories to tell. As their anecdotes continued, the excitement and frustration built up as one story led to another. In total, the two told five different stories, but said that they only skimmed the surface. “Our house must be a beacon for drunk people,” Chrisman says. When a residence gains a reputation as a “party house” it becomes more susceptible to drunken invasions–people return to the last place they remember.
During the summer, Carlson was living in the house alone. One night, a drunken man ran only the porch and sat down next to Carlson and his friends and started mumbling to himself. Suddenly he got up, sprinted to the other side of the porch, then tripped off of the porch and fell nearly six feet into the driveway below. He got up and attempted to break into their cars, checking to see which doors were unlocked and then proceeded to try to break the windows with his fists. With no success, he climbed up onto the cars and started running on top of them. Carlson told him that he needed to leave, but the man just threw his wallet at him and told him to keep it. Then the man crawled up a hill nearby on his stomach and stayed there for 20 minutes.
While he was laying there, Carlson and his friends went inside, locked the doors and watched from the windows. “I still had his wallet, so I ended up messaging him on Facebook the next day and he responded saying ‘oh my god I’m so sorry you can keep 60 bucks from it’ so I just returned it to him and then never saw him again,” Carlson says. He kept the 60 dollars. “We’ve finally gotten good enough at locking the front doors, so things like this don’t happen as much anymore. But even if you lock it, someone might punch the window out and come in anyways, so what’s the point?”
Andy Maughan, a Senior at Ohio University, has experienced a drunken break-in, but instead of it happening at night as most of these situations do, he came home after class in the morning to find a man in his bed. “I woke up in the morning for a 9 a.m. class and realized that there were some people that had slept over, and I had no idea who they were, but that happened pretty often,” Maughan says. “I noticed this really dirty, strange looking kid on the recliner in the living room, but I left because I had to go to class and I was like ‘I really hope those kids are gone when I get back home.’”
Maughan returned, and the sleepers were still there. He walked up into his room and the first thing that he noticed were a dirty pair of boots that were his next to his bed. Then, he looked up into his bed and noticed that someone was in it. “The first thing that crossed my mind was that maybe it’s a good friend of mine and it’s going to be hilarious when I uncover him, but no,” Maughan says with a shake of his head. “I went over and pulled the sheets back on somebody that I totally don’t know, sleeping in my bed with their dirty, muddy clothes on.”
The man in his bed was the same man who was sleeping on the recliner an hour earlier when Maughan left for class. He shook the intoxicated man awake and yelled at him about the rudeness of sleeping in a stranger’s bed. He grabbed him by the collar, picked up his stuff and threw it down the stairs, then pushed the man out of his house, screaming the words “If I ever see you again man you’re done.” Maughan told his roommates and neighbors about the situation and found out that the man had also broken into their neighbors’ house earlier that morning. “I guess he was going back and forth from our house to their house,” Maughan says. “I mean that’s just disrespect at its finest I think.”
Chances are you’ll never have to deal with a drunken trespasser. Stay vigilant though, if you live near a college campus, it could happen to you. After hearing stories from an assortment of students, we have compiled steps you can take to deal with your mysterious inebriated invader. The most important thing to remember is to proceed with caution–you never know what they might do.
The first thing you should do is assess the situation. Do you know this person? Are they awake and screaming profanities in your living room? Are they peacefully passed out on your couch or bed? Dealing with drunk people can be a challenging endeavor, and you will probably need a helping hand. Call your strongest and most patient friends–there might be some heavy lifting involved.
Try to interact with the interloper, but do it gingerly. This person may be very confused and possibly frightened when you wake them, so remain calm and expect the unexpected. Get them some water and maybe an Advil, and then proceed to usher them out of your residence. Make sure they are sober enough to make the voyage home, and if they are unable to walk, think about calling them an Uber.
Sometimes, gingerly waking a couch surfer or politely ushering an intruder out of your home just doesn’t work, so you may have to take some more extreme actions. Splash water on their face, blast a Spanish opera record, strike them with a pillow or other soft object, bang some pots and pans together near their face, tell them that you are going to call the cops if they don’t get out. Drastic times call for drastic measures.
Nobody likes a narc–it’s true. But this intruder may be armed and dangerous for all you know! Their slumber or drunken ruckus may be an elaborate ruse to burglarize your home after you’ve given up and decided to let them sleep on your sofa. The law-enforcement officers in your town have probably dealt with this kind of thing before, so you can trust them to clean up the situation. After they have done their job, they will probably tell you to start locking your doors at night. Take their advice.
The featured image for this article was staged. No alcohol was actually consumed in the making of the photo.