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Victim of Billings home invasion speaks out

Casa Village home invasion
Posted at 1:58 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 15:58:20-05

BILLINGS — It’s a fear so many have: Coming home and realizing somebody has been there who wasn’t supposed to be.

That’s what happened to Cindy Chapple at the Casa Village Mobile Home Park in Billings last week, and it’s something she’s still having trouble dealing with.

“I’m still paranoid," Chapple said. "I’m still scared somebody is going to come in."

Chapple left her house on Feb. 17 around 6:15 p.m. to take her grandsons home and run a few errands. Shortly after, two men broke in and started gathering electronics.

"Two printers were sitting on the floor with cords wrapped up. My laptop was on top of one, ready to haul out of here," Chapple said. "Then they walked into my bedroom and saw that there was a TV here. They said, 'Oh sweet, there’s another TV back here.'"

She knew what they said because her 42-year-old nephew was sitting in the room next door.

"They walked back down the hallway and opened the door to my nephew's room. They looked at each other and (the burglar) just closed the door," Chapple said. "(My nephew) looked out the window and saw they were in a dark-colored truck, and they just took off."

The only thing the men ended up stealing was the front door deadbolt. Chapple said she's never had any problems in five months at Casa Village.

"I thought it was pretty secure. There are a lot of trailers here, and everyone kind of watches out for each other. You don't think it's going to happen to you until it does."

After posting about her experience online, some asked her if the thieves got in using a bump key, which is being used increasingly in burglaries across the country.

"Basically, it’s a key designed with deep-set grooves, and then when you tap on it, it bumps things into place," said Mike Means, a locksmith with Alladin Lock and Security.

Means said bump keys have been around for a long time, but they’re not very efficient.

"If you’re going to have an effective bump key, you’re going to need many types of keys," he said. "If you wanted to prevent people breaking in, you want a knob set with a keyed entry and a deadbolt to create as many obstacles as you can."

Chapple bought and installed new locks that were advertised as bump and pick proof. She also said she will be buying a security system to prevent a repeat of a situation that could have been much worse.

"(My nephew) saw the guy in the living room had a knife in his belt," Chapple said. "He could have been hurt really bad or killed."

A resident at Casa Village, which is at 14 Goldust Drive on the West End, approached Chapple after the incident, saying he wanted to start a Neighborhood Watch program in the area. Casa Village management has indicated they would provide funds to help the organization get off the ground.