HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — It had to be a joke, right? That was Branko Loncar’s first reaction when he and his wife returned to their Hillsboro home after an evening of grocery shopping.
There, Loncar saw his garage left open and his John Deere outside. He thought someone was pulling a fast one on him. What he saw didn’t concern him, though — it was what he and his wife didn’t see.
“Then I see there was no car,” Loncar remembers.
A 1969 Mercedes — a rare model, according to Loncar — wasn’t there. The house had been broken into. Loncar and his wife called Hillsboro police. K-9s and officers went looking for the suspect, but couldn’t find the person. The car was found less than a mile from the house.
To be safe, Loncar sent his daughter to her grandparents house, but he and his wife decided they’d stay home for the night. The joke appeared to be over. But the night had more in store.
While they were sleeping, Loncar said he heard a sound — a rattling. Already uneasy from the night’s previous events, Loncar pulled on his jeans, grabbed his gun and headed for the noise.
When he got to the source, Loncar had found the plastic that replaced the broken door from earlier had been cut about 5 feet. Through that, he saw a silhouette, illuminated from the outdoor lights Loncar had left on. For the second time that day, a person was attempting to break in.
“I’m 5 yards from him,” Loncar said. “I can shoot him like a rabbit and I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I just told my wife, ‘There will be shooting — don’t freak out.'”
The silhouette got closer and turned the door knob.
“And then click!” Loncar said. “That was too much.”
So Loncar, who claims to be a former “commando in a communist military,” fired a warning shot, collapsing a panel on the door.
The silhouette, disoriented from the bang, didn’t leave. He shot a second warning, this time sailing above the silhouette’s head. The suspect fled. The police, for the second time that night, were called, but once again the suspect was gone.
Investigators are not sure if there is a direct connection between the late-night home burglary and the car theft, nor are they sure there is a connection between a nearby homeless camp and the thefts. Police said they have collected fingerprints.They also collected a bike and backpack from the car theft.
Police also think it would be extremely unlikely for a suspect to return to the same house they robbed earlier. Still, if it happens a third time, Loncar — though he hopes it doesn’t happen — said he’ll be prepared and waiting.
“This will be the last word that hey hear, a little Croatian accent,” said Loncar. “Then him and the lord (will be) discussing.”
If you have any information, call the Hillsboro Police Department at 503.681.6190