Would-be burglars didn’t know who they were dealing with when they cased out a North York bungalow in the luxurious York Mills Rd and Bayview Ave. area two months ago.
Their target was the home of Joel Matlin, president and CEO of AlarmForce Industries Inc. and the face of the home security company known for its two-way voice technology.
At the front of the house is a sign alerting would-be thieves that it is protected by AlarmForce.
However, the suspects, as many as five, were not intimidated.
At 11 p.m. on Feb. 4, while Matlin was enjoying the company of friends at a Fort Lauderdale condo, he received a phone message showing live video of a stranger at his door wearing a baseball hat.
“It’s Saturday night. I don’t know this guy,” Matlin, 63, told the Star. “I think something’s coming down at my house.”
The man soon left, but a concerned Matlin said he asked police to increase patrols in the neighbourhood, called his central station and told them to be on alert.
Before going to sleep, Matlin made one mistake. He turned off his cellphone.
Had his smartphone been left on, he would have received an email message notifying him someone was ringing his front door in Toronto at 4:30 a.m. the next morning.
The burglars were back with their faces covered.
They had what appeared to be burglar tools in their hands.
And they were sophisticated. They cut the phone line and were about to cut the Internet line when Matlin’s stepson, Robbie Stepak, 23, heard a loud digital voice from inside the house: “Phone line cut, phone line cut.”
Roused out of bed, Stepak then heard someone trying to kick in the steel front door.
He began shouting at them through the closed door, and by the time he opened it, the would-be burglars had fled.
On Tuesday, Toronto police confirmed they have arrested three men who were in jail in Lindsay on related offences, and charged them with the attempted break-in at Matlin’s home as well as several other offences across Greater Toronto.
Police say the investigation is ongoing.
Matlin said new video relay technology, which enabled him to see his front door all the way from Florida on his smartphone, has provided him an extra measure of comfort.
Whenever he tells people about the incident, they remark that they can’t believe burglars tested his house.
“But I don’t think they knew,” Matlin said, adding he has gained a new understanding of what other victims of home burglaries go through.
Matlin has one regret.
“Had I left my phone on, I would have been able to pick it up and answer my front door from where I was in Florida.
“But I didn’t. That’s the one stupid thing I did.”