Robin Ricketts said she awoke early Thursday to strange noises coming from her home office. When she went downstairs to check things out, she happened upon a strung-out burglar gathering her computer, printer, fax and other electronics and wielding an 18 1/2-inch samurai sword.
"It seems like something that would happen in a movie, not to me," said Ricketts, a 52-year-old entrepreneur from Laguna Niguel.
The suspect, identified as 31-year-old Timothy Clinch, then held the sword to Ricketts' throat, forcing her into a chair in the dining room, where the intruder said he had tied up her husband, said Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.
In fact, Michael Ricketts was upstairs sleeping, along with the couple's two children.
Ricketts said she remained calm, remembering a TV special about how victims should engage their attackers in conversation, making themselves seem more human.
"I said, 'Please don't hurt me. Take whatever you want. How did you get here?' But he just kept telling me to shut up," she said.
When the suspect ran outside, wrongly thinking that Ricketts' husband had escaped, she locked the door behind him.
"He was completely delusional," Ricketts said.
Within an hour, deputies found Clinch hiding behind a nearby SUV and arrested him. He was booked on charges of burglary, kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon.
Sheriff's officials said Clinch had narcotics in his system.