SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KOLO) -- A South Lake Tahoe family got a surprise June 13, 2018, after a bear broke into their home, and it has happened more than once.
After more than 20 years of living in South Lake Tahoe, Lane Sykes and Carole Scofield consider themselves lucky.
"It's a discomforting feeling to think, oh dear, do I dare leave the house," said Carole Scofield.
That discomforting feeling lingered from what took place Wednesday evening.
"I still couldn't understand how a seven-foot bear, 300 pounds, could fit through that (window)," said Lane Sykes.
But that's exactly what happened, Lane, Carole and their friends left the house for little more than an hour. But what happened next shocked them. A bear managed to get inside the house through a small window and helped itself to a free dinner.
"The doors were locked. We left the back window open, which is a small window; I have never thought a bear could get in that window,” said Sykes.
The bear made several food trips while the residents were gone. When they returned home, a friend saw the bear in the kitchen.
"I thought she was kidding and then I said, ‘oh no, it's Tahoe,’ it could be because she looked frightened and very scared," said Scofield.
Carole says this was the second time this bear has broken into their house. Last year, it broke down the front door. Over the years, the family says they have had six incidents with bears.
Even though Lane and Carole laugh about the incident now, they hope others can learn from their experience and close all entry points, no matter how small.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife says bears usually get their food from garbage cans, but now have expanded their food search further.
"Some point in the bear's life, they gained some type of food reward by breaking in a cabin or a home, so they remember that, so the behavior is likely to be repeated," said Lesa Johnston, California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Johnston suggests residents living in bear country never leave food out. People should call 911, if a bear breaks in.
Lane and Carole are glad it was only clean-up required this time around.
"We are very lucky. Both major break-ins, we were very lucky. I know a lot of people have not been. It has been very, very costly," said Scofield.
The couple is talking with the State Game and Fish regarding the incident to make sure it doesn't happen again. Johnston says if a bear breaks in, make sure you do not block the exits, so the bear can get out to a safe location.