PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Wooden boards shore up a rear door at Ray Valdez's home off Southwest Rosser Boulevard.
It replaced glass that a burglar or burglars busted out as part of 11 residential break-ins in the western section of the city.
"It's a feeling of being violated and they violated our space and we feel — my wife wants to sell the house — you don't give in to them," Valdez said Tuesday.
Burglaries plagued the city Monday in the morning and afternoon hours, said Master Sgt. Frank Sabol, Port St. Lucie's police spokesman.
"(Eleven) is a lot," Sabol said. "That would be a lot for most cities."
Sabol said a portion — but not all — of the Monday burglaries seemed consistent with what have been dubbed the "pillowcase" burglars.
These burglars, he said, generally come from the Fort Lauderdale area and target communities off Interstate 95, breaking rear sliding doors and using pillowcases to haul away stolen items.
"What's bizarre is that (in) some of these burglaries, they're hitting the front of the house and they're breaking the glass in the front and then some of them are going to the rear and breaking or prying the rear sliding glass doors," Sabol said.
He said police are investigating if "these are the same group ... from Fort Lauderdale coming up or if now we have some local burglars."
Port St. Lucie police Lt. Leo Niemczyk said last week that between early February and April 18, police had investigated 14 of what appeared to be "pillowcase" burglaries.
"Going back over the last couple of years, I think pretty much a majority of the agencies up and down the I-95 corridor have experienced similar burglaries," Niemczyk said at the time.
The Martin County Sheriff's Office since 2011 has investigated more than 92 burglaries — at least 16 this year — in which cash, coins, jewelry and firearms have been taken, sheriff's spokeswoman Christine Christofek said. About 30 arrests have been made. A town hall meeting is scheduled April 30 at The Pine School in Hobe Sound to address the pillowcase burglaries.
Tuesday afternoon, Martin detectives arrested two Homestead men they said they suspect in a pillowcase burglary in the Canoe Creek neighborhood of Palm City a few hours earlier. They were looking for a possible third suspect Tuesday night, Christofek said.
She said detectives didn't know Tuesday night if Lbee Jonah Evans, 22, and Emil Solomon Porter, 21, are connected to any other burglaries on the Treasure Coast. They've each been charged with felony burglary of an occupied dwelling in the Palm City break-in on Southwest Wood Creek Trail.
Indian River County hasn't experienced any break-ins authorities would associate with the "pillowcase" burglaries in other parts of the Treasure Coast, sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Thom Raulen said.
In Valdez's case, his home on Southwest Aledo Lane is off Southwest Rosser Boulevard, which intersects with Gatlin Boulevard. There is an I-95 exit on Gatlin.
"They grabbed the pillowcase and they just started throwing stuff in the pillowcase, whatever they could find, and then they were out in less than two or three minutes," Valdez said.
The incident happened while he was at work in Miami and while his wife was at a yoga class, Valdez said.
Valdez, a Vietnam veteran, said his high school ring and a U.S. Marine Corps ring he bought in 1964 were among the items stolen.
He said those responsible used pepper spray on their Yorkshire Terriers, Rufus and Molly.
"A small dog this size, it could give them permanent damage but they seem to be OK," Valdez said. "This is my wife's main concern was the dogs, everything else is replaceable ... They're our lives."
Less than a mile away on Southwest Meridian Avenue, items including two firearms, a digital camera, and jewelry were reported stolen, according to police records.
Sabol said one suspect vehicle is a black or dark-colored early model four-door Honda, and one is a silver, newer model Acura sedan with dark tinted windows.
Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers reporter Laurie K. Blandford contributed to this report.