But for the owners, that in itself created a mystery – why would anyone choose to sneak over the border but do so in one of the most obvious ways possible, in broad daylight and in plain sight of their windows.
“My neighbor in Canada told me I was just missing the excitement,” Alain De La Bruere, owner of the Vermont land the men used as a driveway, told CTV News.
“The car went through its driveway and entered the United States, on my land, on my property.”
De La Bruere lives in the town of Derby Line, just under two hours southeast of Montreal. It straddles the border with a sister city in Quebec called Stanstead. The two cities even share a library with the border crossing its interior.
De La Bruere was out shopping on Saturday morning when a gray or silver van pulled up around 10:30 a.m. at the Canadian house which is backed up against his.
He rolled right past the neighbors’ house and onto their back lawn, stopping dead when a series of granite markers blocked his way. Three men came out.
In the video, all three appear to be tall white men, perhaps in their early to mid-30s, with brown hair. One is all black, the other is green, and the third is in an eye-catching red jacket.
LOOKING FROM THE WINDOW
De La Bruere’s neighbor was at the house at the time, as was the neighbor’s wife, who watched everything. She chose not to confront the men herself but called the border guards, De La Bruere said.
However, the group was successful before the authorities arrived. De La Bruere’s surveillance cameras surprised them on the way through the barriers.
“Every four feet there is a block of granite,” he said, covering an open expanse of grass of about 45 meters.
The granite markers are small, each about 1 meter wide and 8 inches high, De La Bruere said. However, they are secured by pins driven one meter into the ground.
At one end of the row, there’s also a three-foot-tall granite marker that says it’s the Canada-U.S. Border – and US Customs and Border Patrol cameras are attached to the tree. , in addition to his own private cameras, De La Bruere said.
“It is obvious that there are pins [the granite blocks], and obviously there are cameras, ”he said.
When the men first tried to cross, “they hit the block,” he said. Then the three men tried to uproot a block and “couldn’t do it,” De La Bruere said.
But then they realized that the last block in the row was missing a pin and they could pull it aside.
“So a few guys were able to move the block, and when they moved it, they went to their vehicle which was parked next to the road and they were jumping for joy,” he said.
They went through the hole, which “scratched the side of the vehicle”, then had to go through about 3 meters of bushes on the De La Bruere side before turning onto a patch of grass and out of its driveway.
ONTARIO LICENSE PLATE
The U.S. Border Patrol told CTV the van was later found nearby.
“Officers responded to the area and soon after located the abandoned vehicle in the nearby Walmart parking lot,” spokesman Michael McCarthy said.
De La Bruere’s neighbor’s wife removed her license plate, which came from Ontario, he said.
When Canadian border guards later arrived to speak to the two neighbors, they told De La Bruere that although the car may be registered in Canada, it is registered with a driver with a California license.
The Quebec RCMP, which monitors the border between official crossings, have not yet responded to a request for comment, and the US Border Patrol could not immediately provide more information.
It was not clear whether the registered owner of the car was the person captured by the camera as the driver of the van, or if there was any indication that the car was stolen.
THE PREMISES ALWAYS PUZZLING
Whether the men in the car were Canadian or American, however, that raises more questions. While the COVID-19 border closure is very strict for Americans trying to enter Canada, it is less strict heading south – Canadians can still enter the United States as long as they fly instead. To drive.
And U.S. citizens can still enter the United States whether they drive or not.
Even though the travelers were Canadian and determined to cross the border rather than fly, that doesn’t explain why they ditched the car at a Walmart.
Whether they were smuggling illegal items into the car or were otherwise barred from entry, they were far from stealthy.
De La Bruere was scratching his head on Monday, hours before a US border official came to his home for another meeting Monday night.
“They probably wanted to go back to California, maybe, and couldn’t come back,” he suggested. “I’m not quite sure… I think they could fly over.
This is not the first time people have tried to cross his backyard. Once last year, another group of men arrived in a van before going out and driving them away. The area is also popular with cycle tourists, who sometimes cross the border by bicycle.
This area is the “busiest northern border area for illegal cross-border activity,” the US Customs and Border Patrol said in its statement.
It is almost 300 miles long, and to patrol it, “officers use a combination of technology, intelligence and manpower. The Border Patrol also relies on public assistance to carry out its border security mission.