"During the summer of my junior year in high school, a friend of mine and her parents asked me if I could house-sit, which basically included just stopping by once a day, feeding and cleaning up after their cats and dogs during their two week vacation out of the country. They left a key with me, and for the first couple of days I was able to do this without consequence. The house was in a nice neighborhood. And for context, the family is hispanic and most of the neighbors were Caucasian.
My routine was to stop by the house at night on my way home from work or a friends house after hanging out and make sure everything was squared away with the house and the pets. About the fifth night of doing this, I noticed a neighbor at a house across the street. They were staring pretty hard, but I was there to do what I had done the previous four nights, so I didn't think much of it.
I was giving a friend of mine a ride home, so he waited for me in the car- this is a key detail, stay tuned. About five minutes into being in the house- the cat had pooped, so I was changing the litter- I felt my phone buzz, but I didn't pick up because... I was changing litter. About a minute later, I'm standing in the living room by the litter and all of a sudden, the brightest flashlight I have ever looked at is in my face through the patio door. It's the cops.
I checked my phone and realized it was my friend calling and texting me to let me know that. At that point I was instantly scared. I called my friend back and he picked up while he was in the middle of trying to explain what we were both doing there. I instantly realized that it looked and sounded sketchy. I told him to let them know I was coming outside. This was before ‘#HandsUpDontShoot,’ but your boy definitely walked outside with his hands visible.
I walked outside and there were three police cars in the driveway, with every conceivable light on. Five officers in total. My friend, also black, was trying to explain the situation to them. Five out of five of them were not buying his story. So I tried to give them my version. I said 'I am a family friend. I'm housesitting. I stopped by on my way home...' blah blah blah. I should note that it was decently late, around 10pm, but definitely not the witching hour. They started to quiz me on why I would be there so late, that kind of thing.
I showed them my copy of the house key. One of them checked the perimeter and went inside the house to see if there was anyone else in there. While they did that the others were peppering me with questions. They really weren't impressed with my answers. I was 17 at the time. During this whole ordeal, pretty much everyone on the block had one or more people on the front porch just watching, likely waiting for us to get arrested. Longest of stories short, my friend and I didn't get arrested for three reasons. First, my friend was waiting outside for me in the passenger seat of my car. If we were there to do a house robbery why wouldn't he either be inside with me helping or in the driver's seat to drive away fast? Second, I had a keychain to their house which had other keys on it, including one for a car that wasn't there which I was able to identify, the one they drove to the airport to park. Finally, my friend's aunt also happened to be one of my high school teachers. She lived in the same neighborhood. Although she was also on the trip, I had her house number in my phone. They had me call it. One of them stood by the house to make sure it rang. It did.
I also had my school ID on me and they confirmed that the information of her working there and me attending there were true. They figured I was either the first 17-year-old to have successfully cased an entire family, or I was telling the truth. They advised that I not go back over there at night again. I didn't understand the full connotations of that until much later. During the rest of their trip, I stopped by in the morning before work. I never have and never will house sit again."