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Brandon teens hide, call for help during break-in

10:56 PM, Aug 27, 2013   |    comments
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Brandon, Florida -- It's a harrowing story that will grab every parent's attention. Two Brandon girls are safe and sound after calling 911 as investigators say someone tried to break into their home.

It happened in the Sterling Ranch subdivision along Thornbush Place in Brandon on Monday, August 19.

Sarah Branson, 14, and her younger sister, Bethany, were enjoying some television together on the last day of summer break. They were home alone around 11:45 in the morning when a stranger came to the door.

Bethany, who is 12 years old, says, "He rang the doorbell." Not once or twice, though; Bethany says he rang it quite a few times. The girls' parents had warned them not to answer the door and never to let strangers inside.

Sarah says the man was someone they'd never seen before. "Usually just let the dog bark and turn off the TV so no one knows we're home."

But on this occasion that backfired. Despite their dog, Riley, barking, Bethany noticed a silhouette at their back sliding glass door and and then, through the curtains, she says she could see the outline of a hand. That's when the girls heard the bar across the glass that keeps the door locked jiggling.

The man they'd booth peered at through the peephole at the front door was coming in through the back. Sarah grabbed her cell phone and her and her sister hid out in a bedroom while Sarah called 911.

They say they could hear the stranger going through their parents bedroom. Sarah whispered to the 911 dispatcher, pleading with him to send help as soon as possible.

Because of the girls quick thinking and the fact that there was a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy nearby, help arrived quickly. A deputy rushed to the house, and as he was coming in he says Todd Urich of Dover was running out the front door.

Several deputies responded to the scene at the same time and Urich, they say, threw the items he'd stolen in the Branson's front yard and started running. He was caught quickly and arrested.

The girl's parents, Steve and Gladys, say it turns out he's also a suspect in another break-in that took place right next door. All of the stolen goods were recovered and their daughters are okay.

The girls parents believe God protected their girls and they can't say enough about the way the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office responded. Gladys says, "There were helicopters in the air, they already had canine units sniffing all over the place."

Urich remains in jail facing a long list of charges. He turned 24 just a few days ago while locked up. It looks like he's going to be there for some time too, since a judge has denied his bond. 

The Branson's have already had an alarm system installed in their home, and Steve and Gladys say they've instructed their children to answer any strangers at the door not by opening the door but by asking them to leave and making sure they know they will call law enforcement right away if they don't.

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