I didn’t intend for last week’s column about being burglarized to have a sequel.
Unfortunately it does.
After going more than 25 years without a break-in, my home got hit twice in a week.
Not only did each of the burglaries have unusual twists, but they also taught my wife and me lessons worth passing on.
Our second burglary call came from the heroine of the first ordeal. In that case, our neighbor followed a truck leaving our yard, and talked to deputies on her cell, until they could descend on the pickup.
This time, Kim Spillers spotted someone sprint from our home and jump into a vehicle, but she couldn’t find her car keys in time to chase them.
Luckily, for us there’s also a hero in the latest crime. Joey Smith, a Livingston Parish detective, spotted something I didn’t know was missing as he canvassed gold-buying shops.
The newspaper gives us lapel pins made of gold embedded with precious stones. When I arrived at the shop, Smith held up a plastic bag containing my pin. At the same shop we found a ring that had belonged to my grandfather, jewelry given to my wife by her parents and several other stolen items.
We only got back a small portion of the things taken; but the most important thing the detective got from the shop was the name of the seller, which gold buyers must keep on file.
The detective’s spotting of The Advocate pin and the seller’s identification started a string of dominoes falling.
Burglaries have been solved in Livingston, Ascension and East Baton Rouge parishes. Kim’s burglary, which occurred in August, is among them.
When detectives located the shop where her things were sold, the jewelry had already been sent to the smelter. The shops are only required to keep the gold they buy for 30 days. Most of these burglaries go back further than that.
One of the things I’ve learned, is that the law on how long jewelry must be held by these shops isn’t sufficient to protect many victims. Often it takes a case like ours to unravel burglaries that go back months.
Another thing we learned is that we should photograph valuables to help detectives find them and apprehend people who break in and steal.
The pin caught Joey Smith’s eye because he knew I worked for The Advocate, but we wish we had pictures of Mary’s white on blue cameo and some of the other things of sentimental value to circulate to detectives in neighboring parishes.
A third thing we learned is to write down serial numbers.
A fourth, which came from a deputy who answered the latest call, is to install deer cameras where they might catch the faces or license plates of burglars.
A fifth is to watch out for our neighbors. We learned that one from Kim.
The last was a reminder of how important it is to have law enforcement officers who are both smart and dedicated.
Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.