A bandit has collected more than $101,000 in silver mint julep cups, pitchers and other items from the upscale Green Island Hills neighborhood.
“I think everybody is concerned about it,” said Larry Cardin, a member of the Green Island Hills Homeowners Association in Columbus.
Over the last 10 days, three homes were targeted on Green Island Drive and one was hit on Waterford Road. Columbus Police Sgt. Jeff Bridges said a detective is looking into four residential thefts in the neighborhood along the Chattahoochee River. In reports, the thief enters the home by taking out a window panel or section from a door, preventing any alarm from sounding.
The thefts appear to be similar to ones in metro Atlanta, including at least five in the posh Buckhead area. Bridges said Columbus detectives are aware of similar cases in Atlanta, but he couldn't state whether the break-ins over the last week and a half are related.
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An Atlanta Police detective said he is almost certain the burglaries were done by a thief who committed similar heists there.
"They are related," said Atlanta Detective Drew Bahry. "We know with almost a 100 percent certainty."
The Atlanta Police Department has been searching for the thief since homes were first hit in April 2011, said Bahry, who talked to a Columbus detective Tuesday.
Bridges said Columbus detectives were making progress.
"Something will probably get nailed down in the next couple of days," Bridges said.
At one of the thefts on Green Island Drive, the break-in was reported to have occurred between 4:23 a.m. and 7:12 a.m. Monday, but the report didn't state if the homeowners were inside. The report stated the burglar left with an estimated $45,000 in heirloom silver.
Bridges noted the most obvious item stolen in the reports is silver after entering through the door. In three of the Green Island Drive thefts, only the silver was reported missing. Silver also was targeted in the theft on Waterford Road.
Another theft on Green Island Drive was reported Monday. An estimated $15,000 in heirloom silver including spoons, forks, cups, bowls and plates from a locked dining room closet was reported stolen. The Green Island Drive resident told police the burglary could have occurred any time between April 26 and Monday.
In the break-in on Waterford Road, the victim told police someone entered the home sometime between 9 p.m. Sunday and 8:20 a.m. Monday by removing a glass from the southeast window. The thief fled with a silver tea pot, coffee pot, dishes and other items valued at $4,000. The fourth burglary also was on Green Island Drive where police said the home possibly was unsecured when a thief entered sometime between 8 a.m. April 29 and 11 a.m. April 30. The thief took two sterling pitchers, 18 mint julep cups, 18 goblets and other items valued at $37,000.
In Atlanta, Bahry said people were not setting their motion sensors while inside their home. A burglar could enter the home by taking out a panel in the door without setting off the alarm.
"Usually it's kicking a door in," Bridges said. "It is a little different. It's still early. We are trying to put it together to see if we can work on anything on that end."
With the thefts in Columbus, Bahry believes the case is coming together. Police are following leads in their search for a suspect.
Thefts now have spread to about five states, including Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.