Notorious cat burglar suspected in Green Island Hills silver thefts has been arrested in Florida, makes national news

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 26, 2013 

A notorious cat burglar Columbus police suspected in a string of high-profile Green Island Hills silver thefts earlier this year was arrested Monday in north Florida.

Blane David Nordahl, 51, was captured by Nassau Sheriff's Deputies in Hilliard, Fla., according to firstcoastnew.com. He was arrested on two Atlanta warrants for burglary with intent to commit a first-degree felony and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Columbus police were notified of Nordahl's arrest Monday, Columbus police Lt. Steve Cox said.

Nordahl's arrest made national headlines, including in The New York Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Athens Banner-Herald.

"He has been a person of interest in the Columbus burglaries since they first occurred," Cox said Monday night. "We have been in contact with agencies from New Jersey, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Florida and several other states. We have also been cooperating with numerous agencies on a mutli-level investigation."

As of Monday night, Nordahl had not been charged in the Columbus burglaries.

Nordahl has been dubbed the “Burglar to the Stars,” with Ivana Trump, Curt Gowdy and Bruce Springsteen among his victims, according to his Wikipedia page. He was described as a skilled burglar who targets homes of wealthy families across the East Coast and has a penchant for taking antique silver.

There were six Columbus silver burglaries in the upscale Green Hills neighborhood in April, May and June. More than $100,000 in silver was taken during the heists. At least one of the them occurred while residents were asleep in the home.

While Nordahl was not not officially named as a Columbus suspect -- only a person of interest -- his name and Internet information was being circulated by Green Island Hills residents at the time of the burglaries. The Columbus burglaries came after a rash of silver thefts at homes in Buckhead, an exclusive Atlanta neighborhood.

In May, an Atlanta police detective said he was almost certain the same thief who committed the Buckhead crimes was involved in the Columbus burglaries.

Nordahl has spent years in prison since he first served time in 1983 in New Jersey. Many of the homes were targeted by Nordahl after doing research at local libraries.

Break-ins occurred while residents were still inside sleeping. He is known for removing a pane from French doors or windows and crawling through to gain entry. After entering a home, he would take only sterling silver, leaving the plated items behind.

In 1996, Nordahl was accused by Connecticut police of burglaries netting $750,000. It included the theft of 120 pairs of silver salt and pepper shakers from the home of Trump in Greenwich. Police followed a trail of burglaries in Chicago and eventually arrested Nordahl outside a Walmart in Sparta, Wisc.

After pleading guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen goods across state line in 1997, he was held in prison to await sentencing but was released in July 1998. Nordahl was sentenced in 2000 to serve five years in prison for conspiracy and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution which allowed him to avoid charges in possibly 50 burglaries in five states.

Since his release in April 2001, he has been accused of burglaries in Philadelphia and arrested by U.S. Marshals in Maple Shade Township, N.J. He was sentenced to serve two more years in prison.

More arrests followed after his release in November 2003. He avoided an extradition hearing and became a fugitive as mansion break-ins spread along the East Coast. Nordahl was arrested again in 2004 in Philadelphia. He was sentenced in December 2004 to eight years in prison.

Staff writer Ben Wright contributed to this report.

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