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Open house thefts in Greenwood Village may be connected to one man

Police call man in photo 'person of interest'
Posted at 9:50 PM, Jul 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-28 10:36:00-04

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GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- This is a busy weekend for realtors, so we want to warn you about a series of thefts across the Denver metro — mostly from high-end homes — and all of them happening during open houses. 

That has led to realtors sending out one man's photo to warn each other of the danger.

"Here's where I had my jewelry box," said Sophie Leon, 80, pointing to the box that is now nearly empty.

For three decades, she felt safe in her Greenwood Village home, until she put it up for sale.

During her open house last Sunday, while she was at church, one of the "visitors" took her favorite gold necklace, her son's watch collection, earrings and other irreplaceable jewelry.

"He grabbed one of each earring," said Leon. "I can't believe it... that people come to your house and having all these people around, he had guts - and he planned it."

Her home is one of at least five high-end open houses targeted in the last few weeks, local realtors told Contact7, blaming a man caught on a surveillance camera outside one Denver home they said he hit, undetected by the realtor showing the home inside.

"Allowing somebody to roam a house without supervision might not be the best idea right now," said Chief Michelle Tovrea, with the Cherry Hills Village Police Department.

Tovrea said she wants to warn others after someone matching the man in the photo's description stole a box of jewelry from an open house in Cherry Hills Village. She called the man in the photo "a person of interest."

"And we'd certainly like the talk to that person about what's been going on," said Tovrea.

Many realtors are aware open house thefts are unfortunately common.

"Strangers are coming into the home. You don't know who people are," said Heather Hankin, with the South Metro Denver Realtor Association, who added she recommends having more than one person at an open house. "And whenever I do an open house, I make sure the seller knows to remove all medicine from the home, lock up jewelry and guns. Don't just put it in a drawer, lock it up."

For Sophie, the stolen jewelry has sentimental value -- it included her wedding band and other rings given to her by her late husband. She hopes police can find the man who took them and get them back.

"You know, sometimes we are naive," she said. "They meant a lot to me."