A spate of burglaries in 48 hours has targeted property owners on the barrier island’s Sea Colony and in Grand Haven Wednesday and Thursday. The burglaries have at least two factors in common: the burglars are focusing exclusively on jewelry or valuable silverware. And their victims are all older, or elderly.
The thefts, some of which entailing break-ins and some of them not, are taking place in daylight, either during brief absences by the homeowners or, in one case, while a resident was working in her yard.
On Wednesday a deputy was dispatched to 1 Via Salerno in Palm Coast where to a burglary. Upon my arrival I made contact with Fred and Nora Greenblatt, 77 and 62, reported finding the front door unlocked after they’d left the house and returned in early afternoon. The dresser drawers in the master bedroom were pulled out. When Nora went to put her jewelry away, she noticed someone had been in her closet. The light was on in the bathroom and closet. All of her jewelry was missing from the jewelry box in her closet and in the bathroom. The value of the missing jewelry: $50,000.
Two of the french doors leading to the pool area were unlocked, the deputy investigating the scene noticed, even though the owners say they keep the doors locked at all times, and had made sure of it before leaving. But there were no pry marks on any of the windows or doors. The gate door for the yard was also unlatched. None of the other rooms in the residence appeared to be tampered with. Nora and Fred stated that they keep the french doors locked all the time and when they left, Nora made sure that the front door was locked.
Units from the sheriff’s Investigative Services Division responded because of the recent increase in burglaries in the area and assisted with the canvassing of the neighborhood.
The same deputy who investigated the Via Salerno burglary soon was dispatched to another burglary call, at 2 Via Bellano, within short walking distance of the Via Salerno house.
There, Nancy Brosche, 61, told the deputy that her 84-year-old mother had left the house a little after noon and returned just before 3 p.m., while Brosche herself had been working outside on the lawn during that time, with the garage door open. When Nancy Brosche went inside to use the restroom she heard a noise, but though it was the cat and went back outside to work on the lawn.
At about 1:30 p.m., as she went to the front of the property to pick up a tool she’d left there, she noticed a parked vehicle on Via Marino under a tree, next to the residence there. As Brosche was looking at the car, it did a U-turn and took off in a hurry, according to the incident report, made a left turn on Camino Del Rey Parkway and blew through the stop sign at Via Marino and Camino Del Rey.
Brosche thought the whole thing unusual but went back to work, and later noticed the cat outside in the front yard. The front door was open. When Brosche returned home she noticed her jewelry tray that was in her dresser was on the floor with some scattered jewelry. The tray was filled with miscellaneous women’s jewelry. Most of it was missing. At that point Brosche realized someone had burglarized the house and taken the jewelry. None of the other rooms in the house were touched. The value of the stolen jewelry: $3,500.
Brosche described the vehicle she’d observed earlier as a small two door box maroon type vehicle
Later that evening, deputies were dispatched to 9 Village View Way in Grand Haven–several miles south–and were faced with the same pattern. Robert Finder, 81, told police that he’d left the house in late afternoon for the community gym and returned in early evening. He was preparing dinner when he discovered his silverware was missing from the top kitchen drawer. The top drawer contained a six-person set of sterling silver silverware worth $5,000). The bottom drawer contained a 12-person stainless steel silverware that was also missing (with a value of $75).
Finder spoke to his wife then checked the rest of the house and discovered that A diamond ring crafted in 1937 of a two-ring platinum, with a single center 1-carat diamond and baguettes on either sides, was missing from the left master bedroom nightstand. Its value: $4,000. Finder reported additional jewelry items stolen, but the incident report, which is slightly redacted, does not include those.
Deputies found no forced entry to the residence and believe the rear slider door was left unlocked. The security alarm was not armed.
The jewelry theft rash continued into Thursday.
Just after 4 p.m., a deputy was dispatched to 3 Bedford Place in Palm Coast’s Sea Colony where the victims, James and Kay Chafee, 76 and 80, reported that someone had entered their house between 1 and 4 p.m. that day and stolen numerous jewelry items. The couple had noticed the missing jewelry when James, after returning home with his wife, went into the master bedroom to put her jewelry away and noticed the dresser drawers open.
The jewelry armoire had been raided, as was a jewelry box on top of the dresser. The robbers had gone into the master bedroom closet and opened some of the wall cabinets. They’d tried to open another closet in the spare bedroom. But as in the previous robberies, only the jewelry was taken. Its value: More than $4,000.
Checking the exterior of the residence, a deputy noticed pry marks on a door leading to the porch. The door was partially open. Further investigation revealed pry marks on the sliding glass door, which leads into the master bedroom. The sliding glass door was closed but unlocked. Deputies believe it was the robbers’ point of entry and exit.
The scene was photographed and processed by the sheriff’s office’s crime scene technician. The investigation into the burglaries is continuing.
My house was broken into on January 13th 2014 , wish it would get the same attention!
My thoughts says
Sadly, this isn’t the quiet, friendly community that I moved into ten years ago. And it’s going to get worse. This pattern of being robbed while you are on your property was occurring decades ago in the urbanized areas of Florida. We learned to lock our doors while we were in our homes. And if you worked outside in your yard, you kept the garage door closed and locked. You wouldn’t believe how bold these guys can be. Thankfully no victim has been hurt, yet.
One of the reasons that we chose Grand Haven was the gated community. No one gets in without a valid address and reason. What happened at the Front Gate? Asleep? or just taking the easy way out?
David S. says
Keep your jewerly and money locked up when you leave your homes and keep your alarm system on.This is Florida where this type of crime occures daily .
Billy Bob says
People that think gates keep out crooks don’t understand that gates only make you FEEL safe, they do not actually MAKE you safe. Anyone can walk or bike right into any of the gated communities by just using the sidewalk, bypassing the gates / “guards” completely.
Pet peeve: why do the gate operators act so shocked and disgruntled when you pull up to the gate and your friend (the resident) forgot to call you in a pass? Get over yourself, you’re not a real security guard you just open and close a gate. Do you really think I drove all the way over here to try to sneak my car in? You’ve already got my license and tag number and I’m on your CCTV. Calm yourself down and call the homeowner and remind THEM to call in the pass rather than getting an attitude with me. It’s not my fault when YOUR resident forgets to call in my pass. There is a common bad attitude among gate operators toward visitors. Also they are slower than post office clerks.
Alarm systems don’t do the job they were intended to do as thieves know it takes several minutes at best for the cops to arrive and they get whatever they want in about 90 seconds and are out the door and gone long before the cops arrive.
I think a lot of us are guilty of leaving the garage door open while we are doing yard work in the back of the house, or leaving the front door unlocked while we are on our porches or in pools, etc. I guess we all will have to find unique places to hide valuables.
Just A. Thought says
Grand Haven- Gated in the front, public bike path in the back with boat access. Hmmm.
Mark P Bialkoski says
LovingFl, unfortunately being in a gated community does not mean you are safe and in-fact gives residents a false sense of security. The gates basically keep honest people honest and the criminals can always find an easy way in. Meanwhile, homeowners let their guard down thinking criminals can not get in. Since you live there, you know that delivery drivers, lawn maintenance personnel and other workers are in and out of there all the time. Add to that family members of residents, and many family members have that one relative who is always getting in trouble, who is able to get in and out of the gate. On another note anyone can walk in through the thin wood line.
Therefore when living in a gated community, live as if you don’t.
Lisa Mrakovcic says
I agree Mark. Neighbors should be looking out for each other.
I agree Lisa. Unfortunately, we have a community of former big city people who are used to not getting to know neighbors and only care or think about themselves. I wish we all would look out for each other more.
Another safety measure worth considering is to always remove your house keys when valet parking your car or having the car serviced. There are apps on smart phones that allow criminals to simply take a photo of your house key and they can get a key made. They can get your address from your car registration and with your key have convenient access to your home.