A serial burglar has been arrested after she was found hiding inside of her neighbor's closet at an apartment complex in Irvine last week.
"She was in the corner of my closet," said Brittney Heinzman, fighting back tears. "It's just like your worst nightmare, you know?"
Much to the Heinzman's horror, she arrived home last Friday to find the woman, 43-year-old Wendy Wilkinson, cowering inside of her closet last Friday holding a pizza cutter, a cutting board and a kitchen towel.
Heinzman says that Wilkinson is a fellow tenant at the Skyloft Apartments on Jamboree Road, and that she has a long record of committing similar crimes against other residents.
After about a week away from home, Heinzman said that she returned to find thousands of dollars worth of items missing from her apartment, which she's certain she left locked.
She says the worst part of it all was the face-to-face encounter.
"She was like this, just looking out at me ... and she said, 'Don't hurt me, don't hurt me.'"
Heinzman chased Wilkinson from her apartment and down the hall, she told KCAL News on Friday.
"Based on the time that the victim was away and the amount of property that the suspect was able to steal, we believe it's likely the suspect went into the residence multiple times to collect items," said Irvine Police Department's Kyle Oldoerp.
After they were able to receive a search warrant, Irvine officers arrested Wilkinson at her apartment, which is several units away from Heinzman's.
Court records show that at the time of her arrest, she was out on bail for a separate burglary.
Officers found valuables in her home, car and a nearby storage space while executing the search warrant, including Heinzman's TV and kitchen utensils.
"She took sunglasses, she took Dior handbags, she took Chanel handbags, she took socks, she took my work ID, my work badge, my passport, my credit card that she decided to use the next day," Heinzman said.
She said that she's moving from the area due to the lingering trauma of the incident.
Wilkinson pleaded not guilty to first degree residential burglary and identity theft.
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