"They're obviously not very smart to go inside a house full of poison," said T.V. Sagnella, who lives in the burglarized two-story home in the 400 block of Southwest 18th Avenue. "I wouldn't kill myself for an Xbox."
The Microsoft Xbox video-game console was among several items targeted by the thieves, who didn't get a chance to steal much because of a swift police response, Sagnella said.
While police were outside the house, they got a tip that some jewelry stolen from the home was being taken to Lauderhill's Swap Shop flea market, police said. Later, officers pulled over the burglars' vehicle and found the stolen jewelry inside the car, police said.
Darrin Green, 20, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested on a burglary charge, police said. A third suspect, Demar Hylton, 19, was taken into custody on unrelated warrants. His unrelated charges were robbery, assault on law enforcement and possession of an illegal weapon, police said.
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Wednesdays' break-in is one of several fumigation-related crimes to happen sporadically in South Florida and the United States. Last month in Miami Beach, a suspect was arrested on charges he cut openings in a home's fumigation tent, cracked a safe and stole about $300,000 worth of jewelry, police said.
Burglars consider tents over homes an obvious sign that nobody's home. Residents should remove valuables from residences before fumigation, authorities say. They also should notify their local law enforcement agency so officers can increase patrols in the area while the residents are away.
Before Wednesday's burglary in Fort Lauderdale, Sagnella and his family figured someone might try to break in during the fumigation. They placed cameras inside the home. The surveillance system lets the family watch live video footage from afar, through a computer, tablet or other hand-held device.
About 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sagnella's brother remotely logged in and checked the footage, wanting to ensure no one had broken in, Sagnella said. Instead, his brother saw burglars inside the home while lifting their shirts over their faces.
Even though the burglars broke in without triggering the alarm, the alarm eventually went off. As police arrived, the burglars still were inside the house, Sagnella said.
"When the police surrounded it, they just dropped everything and ran," Sagnella said. They might have escaped through the back of the house, he said.
The toxic gases in the residence prevented officers from going inside to check for burglars, but they did canvass the area around it. As workers from a pest company dismantled the tent Wednesday, Sagnella looked on.
"It was burning my eyes standing 10 feet from the house," he said. "I'm sure they [the thieves] were in some pain."
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