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Portable Phone Brings Burglary to a Standstill

November 12, 1986|NANCY WRIDE | Times Staff Writer

Thank God for that quarrel with her husband, Ann Elie said Tuesday, a few hours after a pair of suspected burglars were captured in her Westminster home.

Instead of flowers, the 38-year-old mother of two said, her husband had brought home a new portable telephone Sunday "to make up with me."

"He bought it on sale for $75 at Gemco," Elie said. "It was better than a dozen roses. . . . I think it was the phone that saved me."

The 911 call at 1:02 p.m. Tuesday--dialed as she crawled across her kitchen floor--was the first Elie remembers making on the new phone. A dispatcher could not hear her whispers for help, she said, so she ran into the garage and spoke from inside the family's locked car.

Elie huddled there for the next 10 minutes waiting for someone to tell her she was safe, police said, while two men in her bedroom wrapped a television in her bedspread and a videocassette recorder in a pillowcase. Cash and jewelry also were being taken, Elie said later.

Officers actually had arrived two minutes after Elie's phone call for help, Westminster Police Department spokesman Larry Woessner said. But they waited until they saw two men leaving through a window of the home.

"The burglars never even knew she was in the garage," Woessner said. "She did an excellent job of catching crooks for us today."

Arrested on suspicion of burglary were Armando Luna, 24, of Stanton, and David Anthony Mugica, 25, of Anaheim. Woessner said the men were booked into Orange County Jail.

"They were both construction workers," Woessner said, "who apparently had Veterans Day off."

It seems Elie was home the whole time.

The doorbell rang, and there were several knocks at the front door. But Elie, a free-lance word-processor operator who was working on her computer to finish a job, did not answer because she was running late.

"I had a funny feeling something was wrong but just figured maybe it was the meter man or something," she said. "But it made me alert.

"I heard some noise, and I thought it might have been the birds in the cage, but then it seemed like too much noise, so I went to look around.

"Then I heard the glass break in the bathroom off the master bedroom, and I knew something was wrong. . . . Then I saw someone pass by the window."

Elie said she ran to another bedroom to phone police but decided the prowler might see her. She said she "ran around for a few minutes" before going to the kitchen for the new phone--the family's third.

From there she called for help. But when the dispatcher could not hear her, she crawled to the garage--out of earshot of any intruders--where she spoke on the phone in a louder voice, Elie said.

The next 10 minutes were frightening, she said, because "the dispatcher told me not to leave the house."

Tuesday night Elie was still shaken by the burglary, the first at her home.

"I'm cleaning my bed now," she said. "It's like someone has been through my private life."

Times staff writer Barry Surman contributed to this story.

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