SHAWNEE, Okla — Joe Phillips had taken his wife to the doctor around 12:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.
In the short time they were gone, jewel thieves broke into their home though the back door.
Phillips said, “They came and kicked right here. See how soft it is? I’ve got screws holding it to keep it secure.”
The burglars walked past the big screen television, desktop computer and other valuables to the master bedroom.
They grabbed a priceless family heirloom that was filled with $12,000 worth of gold, silver and turquoise.
Phillips said, “Her dad gave her a Korean War jewelry box and it’s priceless. And her grandmother gave her gold handed down from generation to generation to generation.”
The Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a thick stack of similar home invasions.
In one case, a terrified teenager was hiding in the closet.
Undersheriff JT Palmer said, “It’s a great concern. She was in the house while her parents were at work and suddenly the front door is kicked open.”
Authorities say they have increased patrols using marked and unmarked vehicles in the targeted neighborhoods.
However, investigators say the best defense is a watchful eye.
Palmer said, “Neighbors know what neighbors are doing. Take care of each other. Neighborhood watch, it’s not being nosy, it’s being proactive. It could be you the next day.”
Authorities say there have been similar break-ins in Oklahoma and McClain counties.