Appliance thieves target homes for sale

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Updated: 1/16/2013 10:24 am Published: 1/15/2013 10:37 pm

Home appliances are not your typical stolen item.

Tulsa Police say a burglary ring had its eye on home appliances and they caught up to their scheme.

Police busted Brandon Tarwater, 37, and Richi McHenry, 34, last week and records show they have bonded out of jail.

When police served a search warrant they found burglary loot.

"They had walkie talkies, they had multiple garage door openers," said Burglary Detective Naresh Persaud.

Tulsa police burglary detectives say the suspects would go online and scope out homes that were for sale or foreclosed. The suspected thieves would check sites that showed pictures with nice appliances and target those homes.

Detectives believe they targeted at least 50 homes since last summer.

Realtor Heather McGraw with McGraw Realtors and her family have been in the realty business for years and knows when there are suspicious buyers.

“We have to write down what they look like, how many people come in our house, get them to sign in but sometimes they use a fake name,” said McGraw.

She had no idea that she would actually be a victim.

"It was really upsetting," said McGraw.

The stove, fridge and all the kitchen appliances were stripped from the wall and gone.

"What was scary they came in the middle of the night and took all my appliances but they took my key. So we think they were planning to come back to take light fixtures and what was left," said McGraw.

These were professionals and she believes the thieves posed as potential buyers.

"They came in and they scoped out the house. They had done it many times before,” said McGraw.

She doesn’t know who ripped her off.

Police say a homeowner near 21st and Peoria caught Tarwater and McHenry in his home in midtown.

The home was being remodeled and as the thieves were packing up appliances in the middle of the night they were caught by the homeowner.

Burglary detectives believe they had been targeting homes for sale and foreclosures since last summer all across Green Country.

"Getting email pushes and realtor apps on what homes are for sale and foreclosed," said Persaud.

In the suspect’s home, police say they found fliers for homes that were for sale that had been marked a “good" home” to target and the home was cluttered with stolen appliances and realtor keys.

"We don't believe there was anything in the home that wasn't stolen,” said Persaud.

They found stolen furniture, entertainment console and a stereo and several documents belonging to victims.

They also had a picture of a family portrait stolen from a home in Rogers County and hanging on the suspect’s wall.

The thieves may have may have had an elaborate plan but now McGraw says she will continue to remain cautious.

"We just have to take a long line of measure to protect our sellers and ourselves,” said McGraw.

Police say the thieves would sell stolen stoves and fridges on Craigslist. They recommend you add appliances to your serial number list.

Thieves are also known to act like potential buyers and leave an opening in the house to come back later. Realtors also take safety precautions such as locking up all windows and doors after an open house or showing a home.

Tulsa Police report burglaries in 2012 were down 16% and arrests were up 10%.

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