The first time retired middle school teacher Bonnie Saiz's home off Somerset Hill Drive SW in Tumwater was burglarized on Jan. 3 was bad enough.
But when Saiz's home was burglarized again exactly one week later on Jan 10, Saiz said she was traumatized.
"Your serenity is affected, and your peace of mind" Saiz said of having two home burglaries in a week. She added that she used to feel like her home was a place of safety and peace. "Our home has now become the opposite of that," she said.
The burglars ripped the front door off its hinges, and literally removed three bureaus full of jewelry from the master bedroom during the second burglary. The back door was broken during the first burglary. They tracked mud in the home, and even rifled through the medications in Saiz's bathroom.
The thieves took everything from expensive electronics in the basement to silverware, an iPad, and even Saiz's passport.
As of Thursday, Saiz, her daughter Melissa and son-in-law Mike, who all live at the home, were sleeping in a hotel as they replaced the home's doors and invested in a new security system.
Saiz's daugther, Melissa Saiz-Matheny, said her wedding band was stolen. Saiz said they believe their son-in-law Mike Matheny interrupted the first burglary on Jan. 3, and the burglars returned to cherry pick the items they had missed one week later.
"They've really cleared us out of our valuables," Saiz said.
Saiz became emotional as she talked about a group of stolen items that were of great sentimental value - her starfish jewelry collection. Saiz said that as a Tumwater Middle School teacher, she always wore a piece of starfish jewelry, in honor of an essay called "The Star Thrower." The essay tells the story of a boy who throws starfish back into the sea to save them after they have washed up and started to dry on the beach.
Saiz said she always told the story to her students, to remind them that as a teacher, she would try to positively impact each student's life in a way similar to the starfish thrower. "If I save one, I've made a difference," she said.
Over the years, Saiz said, she had accumulated about 40 pieces of starfish jewelry, including homemade ones given to her by former students as gifts. Now, all of them are gone after the burglaries, except for the one that she was wearing at the time of the second burglary.
"These are the things that make me who I am," she said. "The things that are part of my style."
Saiz and her family aren't the only ones who have been burglarized in Tumwater recently.
A home in a nearby neighborhood on Tumwater Hill was victimized by burglars about a week earlier on Christmas Eve. Tim Rogers, who lives off 12th Avenue on Tumwater Hill, has said that over $6,000 in camera equipment, along with all of the Christmas present for his two sons, ages 7 and 10, were stolen.
Tumwater Police Detective Jen Kolb said Friday that there have been a total of 18 residential and attempted residential burglaries in Tumwater since December 1.
Those burglaries include ones that were domestic in nature, meaning that they were committed by a former spouse or a significant other who went into a home without permission, Kolb said. The number of 18 burglaries is "not out of the ordinary," for a six-week time period, Kolb added.
It is possible that some of the recent unsolved burglaries in Tumwater are connected, Kolb said. However, the Tumwater burglaries since Dec. 1 have occurred on varying days of the week, at varying times of day, and in wide-ranging locations, with varying methods of entry.
So far, "there is no pattern or area in which to focus our efforts due to the scattered locations of the various burglaries in the last month and a half," Kolb said.
The Tumwater Police Department is continually focused on solving property crimes, Kolb said. Its officers cooperate with other local law enforcement agencies to try and identify patterns and trends that can lead to the apprehension of suspects in such cases, she added.
"Tumwater officers drive through neighborhoods when not responding to calls for service," Kolb said of the department's efforts to solve property crimes. "They are looking for suspicious persons, vehicles, and activity to prevent these crimes from happening."
Police are investigating the unsolved burglaries, Kolb added.
"Detectives are continuing to focus on known burglars in an attempt to stop their behaviors and take them into custody," she said. "We work closely with our neighboring agencies and businesses to identify those responsible for these crimes."
On Thursday night, the Saiz's were reviewing materials from ADT, a security service for homes and businesses that offers 24-hour monitoring of residential alarms. Kolb said the Tuwmater Police Department will respond to monitored alarms for residences, and that can be a piece of the puzzle in preventing burglaries.
Kolb added that it is not unheard of for a single home to be victimized by burglars twice. Suspects burglarized a home on Sunset Way, near the Safeway on Capitol Boulevard in Tumwater on Dec. 27, and on Jan. 5, a resident was present inside the home when suspects attempted to burglarize the home again.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 email@example.com