From the beginning, Columbus Police suspected a nationally known cat burglar with his own Wikipedia page was responsible for a rash of high-end silver thefts in the exclusive Green Island Hills neighborhood.
Late Thursday five arrest warrants were issued for Blane David Nordahl, 51, according to Lt. Steve Cox.
Nordahl, a man known for stealing antique silver up and down the East Coast, won’t be hard to find. He is currently in jail in Florida after being arrested Aug. 26 in Hilliard, Fla., for two outstanding burglary warrants in Atlanta. He is expected to be extradited to Atlanta next week, where he will be served with the warrants for the Columbus crimes, Cox said.
“He’s one of the best in the business,” Cox said Friday after confirming the warrants had been signed.
Nordahl has been dubbed the “Burglar to the Stars,” with Ivana Trump, sportscaster 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.
The Columbus thefts started in late April. There were at least five Columbus silver burglaries in Green Hills 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.
The bulk of the thefts happened during the last week of April and first week of May. Three homes were targeted on Green Island Drive and one was hit on Waterford Road during that period. According to police reports, the thief entered the home by taking out a window panel or section from a door, preventing any alarm from sounding.
The description of the crime from entry to what was taken fit perfectly with Nordahl’s history.
Columbus police wasted no time in focusing on Nordahl as the prime suspect. Green Island Hills residents were circulating information on Nordahl through social media, but police would only call him a person of interest at the time.
“You can read this guy like a book,” Cox said. “We started looking at him immediately.”
Det. Len Wills was the lead investigator, and Cox said Wills was “extremely determined throughout the investigation.”
Wills has been working with law enforcement agencies across the state and Southeast to help solve the Columbus thefts. The break came after Nordahl’s arrest near Jacksonville, Fla.
“Det. Wills has been gathering information and evidence from multiple agencies,” Cox said. “He has done a great job of piecing this case together.”
Chief Ricky Boren praised the efforts of the Wills and the other detectives.
“Cpl. Wills worked with the citizens here who were victims and worked with other jurisdictions — local, state and federal,” Boren said.
Wills’ work took him as far away as New York City, Boren said.
Prior to the Columbus thefts, there had been a string of at least five similar burglaries in the exclusive Buckhead area of Atlanta. Police there also suspected Nordahl. At the time, an Atlanta police detective said he is almost certain the Columbus burglaries were done by a thief who committed similar heists there.
“They are related,” said Atlanta Detective Drew Bahry in May. “We know with almost a 100 percent certainty.”
Cox said the various agencies are continuing to work together to build the cases against Nordahl.
“Once he gets to Atlanta, we will eventually see him in Muscogee County,” Cox said.
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.
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.