Atypical home invader causes damage to Lake Street home

A shattered window at Dave and Gail Holinka's Lake Street home in Worthington shows where a suspected deer entered and exited their three-season porch. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — A break-in at the Dave and Gail Holinka home on Lake Street before dawn Tuesday morning resulted in a shattered window, upended and broken furniture, scratches on their ceramic tile floor and cuts through the fabric seats on a pair of bar stools.

But this wasn’t done by some fly-by-night, two-footed criminal. Clumps of hair found at the scene and a discernible hoof print on one of the bar stools revealed the likely offender to be a deer.

The Holinkas, who slept soundly on the other side of the house and upstairs, didn’t hear a thing. It seems obvious, though, that the wild animal caused quite a stir before exiting the same way it entered the three-season porch — through a 5- by 5-foot double-paned window.

“The dog didn’t even bark,” said Gail Holinka, who quickly excused the furry pet’s lack of alarm on his old age.

Dave, while preparing for work Tuesday morning, noticed a picture was knocked off the wall in the porch, but he didn’t investigate further. It wasn’t until after he arrived at work that he called Gail and said she should probably go check on the sun room.


Upon entering and seeing the mess, Gail called the police — and later, their insurance agent.

“It's a good probability it was a deer,” Gail said of the collective opinions from everyone. “There’s all kinds of hoof marks or some type of marks that scratched the floor up.

“It must have got spooked from the road,” she added, noting how the animal cleared a patio cushion storage box located underneath the window outside. She’s thankful the deer exited the same way it entered, rather than breaking through the patio doors on either the front or back of the three-season porch.

During its rampage, the deer left scratches on the wine bar and flooring, marks on a china hutch and slobber on the patio windows. It also broke the back off of an antique child’s school desk and the arm off of a wicker love seat. Shards of glass were everywhere, and smatterings of blood were also found.

“I don’t know how long it was in here,” said Gail. “I’m surprised it wasn’t bleeding worse.”

For all of the destruction the deer left in its wake, the Holinkas are thankful it wasn’t worse. The door between the house and the porch was left open, so the deer could have run wild through the kitchen and the rest of the house. Gail and her daughter, Jessica Pass, searched the home, the basement and the yard for any sign of the animal, but nothing more was found.

“Luckily nobody got hurt,” Gail said. “The cat and the dog, everybody’s OK.

“We’ll just clean up and fix up and enjoy the rest of the summer — we’ve got home time,” she said, noting that the ceramic tile flooring in the porch was cut and laid in by her over the course of two summers. She’s hoping there’s a way to buff out the scratches. “It just gave us a new project.”


This isn’t the first time the Holinka house has dealt with destruction. In 2009, their home was struck by a van that had veered off of Lake Street, causing extensive damage to the front and side of their home.

The deer, ironically, hit the same side of the house.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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