Christmas gifts, heirloom jewelry stolen from York woman who met burglar in driveway

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comNovember 15, 2013 

  • What you can do

    The York Police Department offers these tips to deter crime:


    • Always lock your car doors.

    • Keep any valuables, or anything that may be mistaken as a valuable (wrapped presents) out of plain view. Trunks are best.

    • Never leave electronics or cords for electronics plugged in or in plain view. This is a sign that there are probably electronics in the console or glove box.

    • On cold mornings, do not start your car and leave it unlocked with the keys in the ignition.

    • When it is dark, park in lighted areas.


    • Make sure all doors and windows are secure, even when someone is home.

    • Don’t leave valuables in plain view.

    • If you are going out of town, do not post details or photos on social media sites until you return.

    • Have your house checked by trusted neighbors or arrange for a police property check.

    • Leave contact information with a neighbor or police.

    • Place a hold on mail with the post office.

    • Place a hold on newspaper delivery, or have someone get it every morning.

    • Put lights on a timer.


    • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason. At this time of year, criminals may try various methods of distracting you with the intention of taking your money or belongings.

    • Avoid overloading yourself with packages. It is important to have clear visibility and freedom of motion to avoid mishaps.

    • Stay alert to your surroundings.

— On her way back from a trip to the grocery store, a York woman returned home this week to learn Christmas presents for her grandchildren, a birthstone ring belonging to her dead mother and a 100-year-old family heirloom had been stolen.

The thief, police say, was waiting in a van in the woman’s driveway.

Susan Fox, 66, said she arrived at her Springlake Road home, off Filbert Highway, at about 2 p.m. Thursday and found a silver van parked in her driveway, facing the road.

“When I pulled in, I thought that was somebody that needed to see me,” she said.

As she pulled up to the van, she rolled down her window. The driver, a man in his 30s or 40s with a goatee and long sideburns, rolled down his window. He told her: “Oh, I’ve got the wrong address,” Fox said. Then, he drove off.

Fox pulled into her garage, unloaded her groceries and decided she better check on her house, she said. She didn’t see anything out of place, but once she stepped into her bedroom, there was an odd odor in the air.

“I smelled a smoky smell,” she said. “We don’t smoke.”

She discovered that Christmas presents for her four grandchildren were missing, she said.

“He left some,” she said. “He didn’t take all of them. He took most of the clothing,” worth about $200.

Also gone were boxes of “sentimental” antique jewelry.

That jewelry includes her late mother’s opal birthstone ring. Fox’s mother died Oct. 10 just two weeks shy of her 90th birthday.

Fox realized her grandmother’s wedding ring also was stolen. The ring, holding a garnet stone, is at least 100 years old, Fox said.

Police list an antique diamond engagement ring, a pearl necklace, costume jewelry and antique gold with pearls as other items taken from Fox’s home, the report states.

On Friday, Fox said she realized later Thursday night that the thieves also took her Nook tablet.

“Detectives thought maybe they would have taken more, but the fact that I showed up might have stopped them,” she said, adding that she’s not sure if the stranger in her driveway was accompanied by a second person.

Fox told officers she found both side entrance doors to her house unlocked and open, though they are always closed and secured, according to a York police report. Detectives found a side screen window broken, determining that to be the “point of entry,” the report states. It appeared that the suspects tried to put the screen windows back on to make it look like no one had been inside.

A K9 unit surveyed the area, police said. No scent trail was uncovered. Police estimate that the stolen items were valued at $6,100.

By Friday, police had made no arrests or identified any suspects in connection with the burglary, said York Police Chief Andy Robinson.

Fox and her husband had been buying Christmas clothes for their grandchildren – two boys and two girls, whose ages range from 3 months to 6 years old – for several weeks and stocking them in the bedroom.

Losing the gifts and jewelry “kind of puts a damper on everything,” she said. “It makes you sick to your stomach that someone would steal like that.”

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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