They Caught Him

They caught him.

To be honest, I never thought they would.

I got the phone call on a Wednesday morning in February. A detective told me a police department in a southern suburb of the Twin Cities had arrested a career burglar the day before. In his house, they found hundreds of stolen goods, including passports stolen from a home a few miles away from us, a home that was burglarized the same day as ours. "I can't guarantee anything," the detective told me. "But you had a red Dell laptop that was stolen, right? I know that's one of the items we've recovered."

I thanked him for the call and sat in the car stunned. Maybe delirious.

I didn't say anything about it on the blog back then, maybe because I wanted to wait and see how the story would play out. The detective said it would take a few weeks to sort through the stolen goods. They literally filled tables and tables with all the recovered stuff. The clip of all those necklaces, earrings, watches, cameras, laptops and purses made for good TV. The day I got the call from the detective, our thief's picture was on every local news station. (And you better believe I poured over every inch of the tape given to local media and sent to me by my detective contact, searching for my jewelry. "Is that my necklace? Oh my word, there's my bracelet from Grand Marais!")

It was very surreal.

Maybe even weirder than seeing some of my stuff on TV was seeing the face of the man who had broken in to our home.

Police said his MO was exactly what we experienced. (And they know this both because of clues he left behind and because they arrested him after doing surveillance.) He would knock at a front door. If no one answered, he would go around to the back, cut the phone line, break open a door with a crow bar and use a pillow case to grab the most expensive and portable items he could find. A few times, he actually opened the garage door from the inside and pulled his car in while he pillaged. It only took him a few minutes to enter the house, get what he wanted and leave. Police labeled him "very efficient."

You might say.

It took longer than I hoped, but eventually, the few pieces of my jewelry that were recovered were returned to me. It wasn't much. A few bracelets, a few earrings, a broach.

But it meant the world.

The blue-and-green bracelet I got at the flea market up north. The pink Mercy House bracelet I bought from Kristen Welch at the Orphan Summit last spring. A 31 Bits cuff I won in a giveaway from Love. A plastic beaded bauble Natalie made me "because blue and green are your favorite colors, Mom, and I put in gold because I know you love the sun." A broach that I borrowed from my mother's jewelry box when I was a teenager. A pair of earrings Corey got me that triggered one of the more memorable fights in our marriage.

Pulling each one out of a customary manila envelope a few weeks ago, sitting in a bare cement county building, it was like greeting a long-lost friend.

And that they are.

So the story ends. The thief has pleaded guilty to the 10 burglaries he's been charged with so far. He will be sentenced next month. Because my laptop wasn't password protected, it was used to sell stolen goods on Craigslist, so for the time being, it's court's evidence. I'm told I'll get it back eventually.

And I will probably never wear those bracelets again without smiling and thinking of the months they lay in someone else's house, of the things they saw. I still wonder what happened to the rest of my jewelry.

But I know I'm lucky to have even gotten back the few things that I did. I mean, who gets robbed and then gets their stuff back?

Time to shop for new jewelry.

Case closed.


  1. Lovely. So glad some of your things made it back to you. Sorry for the things that didn't and for that awful feeling the day you discovered it all.

  2. Wow, Kelly! What a story. So glad those memories and items have been returned to you.

  3. And really, you got a MacBook out of the whole ordeal, so that's a plus! But I'm so relieved for you that you got some of your loot back. The whole thing still makes me shudder.

    1. True, eh? It's why I don't really care about when I get my laptop back. It's irrelevant at this point. (In fact, because we had already finished the paperwork for our insurance by the time we caught the guy, every item we recover at this point is a pain in the you-know-what. We either have to ship it to the insurance company or write them a check. I'm inclined to ship it to them.)

  4. So relieved you got some of it back. I know how precious memories can get linked to each item.

    Also, I'll have you know that it was your horrible experience that made me sign up for cloud storage I'd thought about forever but hadn't gotten around to doing. I'd had an external harddrive in case of computer crash, but I'd worried about what would happen in a fire. I do freelance graphic design, so my computer holds all of my customer's art & forms, AND we never get pictures printed, we just look at them on the computer. If I had a similar break in, I'd likely lose 7 years of work files. And nearly all of the photos of my kids, starting from when my 9 year old was 6 months old. So I signed up for Carbonite. And now I don't feel so nauseous thinking about what would happen.

    1. This makes me happy, Sarah. I'm glad to be an agent that calls for back-up. :-)

      The realization of what I would have lost if I didn't have my laptop files duplicated on my external hard drive made me sick. (We don't print pictures either. I would have lost 10 years.)

  5. Wow. I'm amazed they even caught him. I never really thought they put that much effort into burglaries.

    What a story.

    1. Well, in this case, they caught him because he already had a record and he was busy. When he was first arrested, 7 counties in the Twin Cities wanted to look at him for burglaries. He hit so many homes and he was so style was so consistent, it was just a matter of time before he was caught.

  6. HOLY MOLY! This is crazy town! Glad you got your stuff back...what a wild story those pieces of jewelry could tell!!!

  7. So wonderful!! I love your jewelry and your stories behind each piece. I've got that kind of jewelry too. :)

  8. I can't believe you got your things back! how wonderful to get those bracelets back, with such memories! We were burglarized a few years back and the police, eventually, caught the guy and we got our Wii back after he had tried to resell it at a gamestop. it was so weird to hear the guy's method of burglary and see his face, it still haunts me. I'm thankful your situation has been resolved :)

  9. Wow! How incredible that you got some of your things back. What a story!