Neighbor wrongly accuses three men of burglary while touring a home for sale, calls cops

A real estate agent, his client, and that man’s son were accused of breaking and entering into a home for sale in Wyoming, Michigan by a neighbor who thought a previous criminal had returned to the home due to the resemblance in vehicles.

“I was scared,” Army veteran Roy Thorne said about the incident. “I was scared for my son.”

Thorne and his 15-year-old son Samuel went with their real estate agent Roy Brown to tour a home near Grand Rapids, Michigan, and found themselves handcuffed and surrounded by half a dozen police officers after a neighbor reported a break-in at the property.

While touring the home, Throne noticed that outside, police were beginning to surround the property with their guns drawn. “A SWAT team is what it felt like,” Brown said. Thorne then told his son to “get down and stay away from the windows.”

Thorne says he attempted to communicate to an officer who was in the backyard that they were there touring the home with their real estate agent. The officer pointed his gun at Thorne and told the men to come out with their hands up.

“I knew once they surrounded the home they were preparing for a standoff,” Thorne, told CNN’s Don Lemon Friday. “And so my instincts told me we need to get out of here, we need to get to where they can see that we’re not a threat.”

Attempting to get to the bottom of the incident, police handcuffed and detained all three men in separate squad cars. Officers spoke with the couple who made the report, finding out that the vehicle the three men were driving matched the description of a previous vehicle that had been used to break into the home. The couple thought the criminals had returned.

Once Brown explained that he is a real estate agent, even showing his credentials, the officers immediately removed the handcuffs. 

Thorne and Brown say this altercation never would have happened if they were white. Thorne says 15-year-old Samuel is now “paranoid” adding, “I don’t get how we were treated as a threat when we’re clearly not one.”

“If we were White, that wouldn’t happen,” Thorne said. “There had been as many as 40 showings without incident in the three weeks that house had been on the market.”

The Wyoming police department released a statement saying, “On August 1, our officers responded to a 911 call from a neighbor reporting that a house was being broken into. Officers were aware that a previous burglary had occurred at this same address on July 24 and that a suspect was arrested and charged for unlawful entry during that incident.”

“The caller indicated that the previously arrested suspect had returned and again entered the house,” the statement continued. “When the officers arrived, there were people inside of the residence in question. Officers asked the individuals to come out of the house and placed them in handcuffs per department protocol. After listening to the individuals’ explanation for why they were in the house, officers immediately removed the handcuffs. The Wyoming Department of Public Safety takes emergency calls such as this seriously and officers rely on their training and department policy in their response.”

“If you see a crime, report a crime,” Thorne said. “But if you see us just living life the same way you do, just let us do that.”