DOUBLE BURGLARS, DOUBLE BUNGLES
by B J BECKHAM
After a weekend away, Pam Turner pulled into her garage. The door from the garage to the house was unlocked and the alarm was off. At the time she thought in her rush to beat the Friday traffic she had simply forgot to secure her home. Upon entering her home Ms. Turner found she had been burglarized. Fearing the person might still be in the house she went back out the way she came in and called 911.
Deputies Nicole Nixon and Sam Keen were dispatched. The deputies discovered the lock on the back door was picked and the security system had been deactivated. The home had been stripped of major electronics, jewelry and certain items of value collected by the owner. A search of the property revealed no fingerprints or other trace evidence to identify the intruder. Deputy Nixon said, “We have no way of knowing if it was a crew or just one person, but if the burglar worked alone he was in the house for a long time.”
Ms. Turner, a self proclaimed obsessive, provided the police with pictures and serial numbers of the stolen property. The only clue deputies had as they left the home was a neighbor’s statement that while jogging Sunday morning he saw a red van in the driveway.
Later that evening Ms. Turner was cleaning her kitchen after dinner. She used her foot to open her kitchen garbage can and while scrapping her plate noticed a piece of gum. Ms. Turner, who is living alone at the time and never chews gum, called the police again.
The gum was retrieved as evidence. The DNA found was a match for Andrew Whip. Mr. Whip’s DNA was on file due to his conviction for burglary three years earlier. He was arrested at his home in front of Ms. Turner’s big screen TV, playing her Playstation and wearing her husband’s watch. Under a carport they found a van freshly painted blue.
The stolen merchandise was recovered and Ms Turner was informed that it would be retained until trial. However, things did not go as planned. “When I entered the serial number for the first TV the computer told me it was stolen. I thought that someone had made a mistake in entering a number in the past,” said Evidence Clerk Beatric Lowes. “I figured I would straighten that out later and moved on to the BluRay. The same thing happened.”
After going through all the recovered objects it was clear many of the items which Ms. Turner reported as stolen had been previously reported stolen from other residences. Those home were three out of five burglaries attributed to a person known as The Treasure Chest Burglar (TCB) because he left a small wooden treasure chest in the home owners’ safe.
Ms. Turner was brought in for questioning. She had only known her husband for three months before she married him. She believed him to be an online travel agent. They were married for one month before he was arrested for assault and sentenced to one year. “The last burglary believed committed by the TCB was just over a year ago, before she met her husband. There is no reason to believe she was involved in those robberies,” said Deputy Nixon. “Pam Turner’s only ‘crime’ was making an accurate record of the valuable in their home.”
James Turner has served six months on his sentence and is scheduled for release next week. “Her husband is gonna be awfully surprised to find himself facing fresh charges in the morning,” said Deputy Nixon. “Mr. Turner is the Treasure Chest Burglar. I don’t know if it’s ironic, karma or just downright funny that the way he got caught is because he himself was burglarized.”