This Is our Village

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WEST PALM BEACH CENTURY VILLAGE BURGLARIES

WEST PALM BEACH CENTURY VILLAGE BURGLARIES
Residents uneasy after theft spree
Seven Century Village condos have been broken into recently.
By Jorge Milian Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
   Even after burglars stole thousands of dollars’ worth of property at his Century Village condo on July 16, Frank Veglia said he felt lucky. The crooks left behind a 58-inch flat-panel television in his bedroom.
   But Veglia’s relief didn’t last long. A couple of days later, the burglars were back. This time, they didn’t leave without the TV.
   Veglia isn’t the only Century Village homeowner victimized recently. According to residents, seven condos in the Southampton buildings of the retirement community have been broken into in the pastthree weeks.
   The thefts have residents on edge. One homeowner has chosen to arm himself with a machete when walking around in the evening, while another keeps a knife next to her bedside.
   “I’m not sleeping here at night because I’m petrified,” said one resident who had her home burglarized last week. “It seems like every night, someone is getting their place broken into. Everyone is freaking out.”
   Century Village is a gated community with round-the-clock security patrols, including a guard stand at the front entrance where visitors must identify themselves before gaining admittance.
   None of that has prevented the burglaries, which have occurred mainly at night and mostly in apartments vacated by snowbird residents who have left for the summer.
   Veronica Brooks returned from her job last week to discover that someone had broken through the sliding glass door in the back of her condo and taken about $2,000 worth of computer equipment and other items. The thieves appeared to take their time, meticulously going through her closets, drawers and several plastic storage bins.
   “I’m apprehensive,” said Brooks, who has lived in the apartment complex for 2½ years. “Are they coming back?”
   The burglars have acted brazenly. Among the items stolen from Veglia’s condo on July 16 was a 200-pound safe containing a credit card and about $1,000 worth of cash and rare coins. They also stole several bottles of liquor from Veglia’s apartment, then broke into the adjoining condo, where they apparently drank the booze.
   Details of the burglaries were not immediately available from the Palm Beach County Sheriff ’s Office.
   Residents of the Southampton buildings were planning to meet tonight to consider what actions to take. One suggestion that will be raised is for homeowners to install lighting at the rear of the residences, an area burglars favor to gain entrance. There’s also talk of residents taking shifts on night-time patrols.
   “We have to finds ways to protect ourselves,” said a woman, who declined to give her name for fear she might be targeted by the thieves.
   One resident said Monday that she’s considering moving out, but Veglia said he’s “not going anywhere.”
   “I’m not running from them, but we do need some help,” Veglia said. “All I know is this has got to stop.” jmilian@pbpost.com 
   Twitter: @caneswatch
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