Ellen Goldberg, NBC 5 News
A Dallas woman says she believes a man is leaving items on people's lawns and then breaking in if the items are not later moved.
Some Dallas residents say that what first appears to be a prank is actually how burglars are finding victims.
Laura Stolk said she found a garden gnome and several candles in her front lawn on Palo Pinto Avenue in her Lakewood neighborhood.
A check of her home's surveillance cameras showed a man creeping on her lawn at about 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 19.
"It's a man," Stolk said. "He walks forward with a flashlight onto our front porch."
Other Lakewood Heights residents have found items in their yards that don't belong to them. Stolk said she is convinced it's not a prank.
"That's an M.O. of crimes in our neighborhood," she said. "They place an item or move an item and come back later and see if it's adjusted. If not, break-ins may occur."
Stolk said she believes she also has video of the prowler driving back by her house several hours later, only to see she had moved the items left on her front lawn.
"It worries me there are people out prowling the neighborhood during the night, looking for opportunities to climb into your house," she said.
Ten homes on her street, and more than 10 in her neighborhood, have been broken into this year.
Stolk said she tried to give her surveillance video to Dallas police.
"I did call the police, and they declined to view the video," she said. "They just said that it didn't seem important."
Stolk said she is adding more cameras to her current collection.
"It kind of gives you peace of mind, and you can review it if anything strange happens," she said.
A Dallas police spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, saying the department needs more time to review the case.