It’s the same pattern in every case, and it mirrors similar burglary patterns in Volusia, S t. Johns and Sumter counties: Suspects consistently described as two black men driving a higher-end SUV park in the driveway, knock on the door and wait. If someone answers, they ask for directions or ask about neighbors. If not, they get to work, burglarizing the house.
Last week it happened to homes in Palm Coast’s B and C Sections, and in the Palm Harbor neighborhood.
One of the homes burglarized was that of Janet McDonald, the school board member, and Dennis McDonald, who’s been in the news lately for other reasons. Janet McDonald had been away all morning, volunteering at Rymfire Elementary School. She got home at 5 Twisted Oak Place through the garage. Once in the kitchen, she saw a box on the floor. It hadn’t been there when she left. Moments later she discovered the door to the patio had been smashed in. The bedroom was in disarray. Things had been thrown on the floor, drawers opened, the closet rummaged through, according to a Flagler County Sheriff’s incident report.
Similar scenes unfolded in the bedrooms. Some of her jewelry was missing, as was a $1,200 Macbook Air, stolen from a rear bedroom that serves as an office. Two Wells Fargo checkbooks were stolen as was a debit card, which McDonald immediately cancelled.
A neighbor remembered seeing a red or maroon vehicle parked in the driveway at about 9:30 that morning. Other witnesses who spoke of other incidents gave matching descriptions of the vehicle, though there was also talk of a black Nissan with two white women involved, the incident report notes: McDonald’s neighbors across the street were having their floors redone. One of the workers told police that that morning, two white women walked up to the house, opened the front door, which was cracked open, and asked questions about flooring before leaving in a black Nissan Sentra.
The incident report states that across the same street, a witness described the same color vehicle as was sparked in McDonald’s driveway, and two black men coming up to the resident to ask about another street. The resident, the report states, “ran the two guys off.”
The two men match the description of two men who attempted to break into the home of 64-year-old Maria Franco at 11 Cedar Dale Court, at about 1 p.m. the same day, where the men broke the glass on the front door. But a neighbor across the street saw them, and they saw the neighbor looking at them. They drove off toward Cimarron Drive. Nothing was missing from the house, but the damage to the door was around $300.
“Several of the other homes on the street are vacation homes and the owners are seasonal residents,” the arrest report states.
In the meantime—at about 10 a.m.—it appears the same burglars struck at 15 Live Oak Lane, home of 78-year-old Robert Hay and 74-year-old Sharon Hay, who’d returned home in early afternoon that day from vacation. The right-front door panel to the house had been smashed in and the master bedroom had been ransacked, and pieces of jewelry were found through the front door entrance way and hallway areas. Two jewelry boxes were missing.
At 11:09 a.m. that same day, sheriff’s deputies responded to 11 Bickshire Lane, where homeowner Vicki Chauncey, 30, reported coming home minutes earlier to find a maroon Infinity in her driveway. Chauncey stopped a house away, waiting to see if the vehicle was going to move. It didn’t. But when she prepared to drive in, the car drove off. Chauncey discovered the rear sliding-glass door smashed in. A jewelry box in a bedroom was on the floor, though it appeared that the only thing missing was $50 worth of costume jewelry, according to an incident report.
The sheriff’s office cautions residents to be extra alert and call 911 if anyone sees anything suspicious, such as unknown vehicles parked in driveways or strangers coming to one’s door. If you have information about these or any crimes in Flagler County, please call the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Division at 386-586-4801 or Crime Stoppers at 888-277-8477. Tipsters remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.