He came back, though -- and ran right into the Napiers.
"He saw us, and then he charged right towards us with something in his hands," Judy Napier told the Journal-News. "He probably didn't realize my husband is a retired construction worker who had a baseball bat."
Heaton Napier hit the suspect, later identified as 48-year-old Ted Marcum, on the head and in the ribs. It was enough for Marcum to run off, but officers caught up with him a few blocks away.
Heaton Napier said Marcum had stacked his tools by the garage door but never saw the $16 motion detector that foiled the theft.
"Seems like lately it's been a lot of young boys," she said. "They're flying down here trying to mess with one another. The young girls, a lot of prostitution."
The Napiers see the problems, too: Judy Napier said she was once hit in the eye during a robbery.
"Two years ago, they broke in here in the side and took every tool I had, and I'm tired of it," Heaton Napier said. "This is a high-crime area. The police can't do everything, so all of our neighbors have joined together to watch out for each other."
Marcum faces charges of breaking and entering, possession of drug abuse instruments and obstructing official business. Fort Hamilton Hospital treated his injuries.