PALMETTO BAY (CBS4) - The Village of Palmetto Bay on the water in South Miami-Dade is called a village because it's too small to be called a town. But the little, predominantly white collar community of just 8,000 homes is also rich in property crime.
Palmetto Bay has seen 165 burglaries so far this year, an increase of 40 percent over last year.
"We are experiencing an uptick in burglaries, as are most communities," said Village spokesman Bill Kress. "While we have had more than 160 so far this year, when you compare it to some comparably-sized towns, they may have that many in a month."
A Palmetto Bay homeowner, who asked not to be identified, was among the recent victims. He told CBS4's Gary Nelson that his wife came home to discover burglars in the house.
"All of the contents that were taken were the kind that could be easily pawned," the homeowner said. "All of my child's electronic equipment, all of my wife's jewelry."
"It's something that worries me. It worries me a lot," the homeowner said. "It worries me even more because of the community that we're in."
Hal Garrigues, who lives off Old Cutler Road, said his girlfriend arrived at this house to see two burglars coming out the front door. They had broken in through a rear door window.
"They had a pillowcase off of our bed," Garrigues said. "She started yelling at them and they casually walked down the driveway, got in a car and drove away."
The pillow case contained about $15,000 dollars worth of jewelry and priceless mementos.
"They took my Naval Academy ring," Garrigues said. "My father had it made for me, a custom design. I can get it replaced, but never recover the sentimental value."
The surge in burglaries in Palmetto Bay, which is detailed on the Village's website, has apparently been fueled by the dismal economy and a dramatic rise in the price of gold. Gold has gone through the roof, making those baubles behind your bedroom window all the more tempting.
The burglars typically ring the doorbell, knock on the front door, and if no one answers go around back and break in.
Burglar alarms are little deterrent. By the time alarm companies go through procedures to verify that the alarm is for real and call police, the thieves can do their work and be gone.
Palmetto Bay is increasing neighborhood patrols and conducting community awareness programs, urging residents to stay alert to what's going on their block. Homeowners are encouraged to call police if they see unfamiliar people or vehicles at a neighbor's home, particularly if they know the neighbor typically would not be home.
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