STUART, Fla. -
William Fowler demonstrates what thieves did this month to get into his home in Stuart.
His hurricane windows didn't break, but smashing them with his patio chair left enough space for crooks to get in, steal his pillowcases and make off with some jewelry.
"That's really invasive that you have to worry about someone getting into your house and getting into your bed," said Fowler.
His high fence, while allowing for privacy, a plus for thieves who struck when he wasn't home.
"Not only us but a lot of our neighbors have been victims too. Very unsettling," added Fowler.
In fact after hitting the Fowler home, the crooks got into his next-door neighbors.
After hitting those two homes, the burglars then came around the corner to Osceola Street where their luck ran out. An alert neighbor saw them trying to break into a home, and alerted police.
Donna LaClare's neighbor spotted the thieves. LaClare unfortunately knows about being a victim. Her home was hit last year, she thinks by crooks with the same M - O (method of operation).
"You have to go on living your life. What am I going to do? Stay home and protect my house? I have to make an income, I have to live my life," said La Clare.
In fact, since May of last year, there have been about 60 cases in Martin County involving burglars who race off with stolen items in pillowcases. It's a crime that definitely has the attention of law enforcement.
"We've learned that they knock on the doors and if no one answers, they go around back or find a place not seen by the public and that's where they will gain entry into the homes," said Sgt. Mike Dougherty with the Martin County Sheriff's Office.
In William Fowler's case, a somewhat happy ending, as most of his wife's stolen jewelry, including her class ring, was recovered, thanks to a nosy neighbor, and good police work.
"If there's a vehicle that doesn't match a description of one that's usually there, call us. If you call 9-1-1, we will send somebody. We have people out there specifically looking for these guys every day," said Sgt. Dougherty.
Martin County detectives have arrested 30 people in connection with their pillowcase crimes. Many of those arrested are from Broward County.
The crimes have been reported everywhere from Palm Beach through Brevard Counties. Last month, a number of crooks were arrested in connection with a group of similar crimes in Jupiter Farms, Palm Beach Country Estates, and Loxahatchee.
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