Homeowners are returning to discover that they have other problems besides termites.
Thieves are walking into homes filled with poison to get their loot, according to police. They say at least six homes have been targeted in La Jolla while they were covered with tents and being treated for termites.
"Some people think it is a circus tent," said Mike Lawson with La Jolla Termite & Pest Control. "In reality it is a deadly tent."
The tented homes are filled with a fumicide that is mixed with tear gas. Only thieves using gas masks could pull off the crime and even then it's a dangerous move.
"The house is filled with chemicals designed to kill things," said San Diego Police Lieutenant Jim Filley. "If you're in an environment like that for a prolonged period of time, you're going to get very sick and you're certainly capable of losing your life."
People in the pest control industry have worried about thieves for years. A tented home is a sign that no one is home.
There have been incidents where burglars have been overcome by the toxic gas and died.
Lawson said that thieves are breaking in with crowbars and smashing windows. He said during the two-day tenting, homeowners might want to hire security firms or ask neighbors to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
Police suggest that while you are covering up and removing food from the house, you may also want to take valuables away.
"Just get your video camera, small electronics, the things that are stolen in burglaries," said Filley.