Jim Jakubowski saw and heard nothing when an unknown person quietly entered his Sylvania home one night last month.
But when Mr. Jakubowksi awoke, he noticed his car was missing from the street where he had parked it.
Then, within moments, he realized his keys and wallet were gone too.
The culprit? Authorities believe it's a man who has burglarized about 40 homes in more than eight communities in Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood counties. He's also eluded police twice during the last three months, authorities said.
The man enters through unlocked doors in the early hours when occupants are still asleep and spends no more than a couple of minutes inside, typically stealing wallets, purses, and car keys he then uses to steal a vehicle, Detective Michael Yunker of the Sylvania police said.
Oftentimes, the man uses a stolen vehicle to drive to a different location to commit other burglaries. They vary from one to five a night. Eventually he dumps the stolen vehicles, from some of which police have recovered identification taken from the burglarized homes, sometimes several from one vehicle, he said.
"It's very unusual for someone to get that far without being caught," Detective Yunker said.
"He is definitely experienced. He has no fear entering the homes. He is comfortable with what he is doing and that's what's scary for the law enforcement."
Glimpsed only on several occasions, the suspect hasn't been confronted by his victims. He is described as a white male, between 5 and 6 feet tall, and weighing about 135 pounds.
In the Jakubowksi case, the suspect caught the family at a time when they were just home from vacation - and dead tired. Because of that, nobody in the Jakubowski family of four remembered to lock the front door in Sylvania's Tantallon subdivision before they went to bed late last month.
Mr. Jakubowski, who usually takes his wallet and car keys upstairs with him, had left them downstairs on a table visible from a front window in the family's home on Marshwood Drive.
"We're all shocked that somebody had the audacity to just walk in, take what they wanted, and leave," Mr. Jakubowski said, adding that neither he, his wife, nor his children heard or saw anything suspicious.
They're also upset with themselves for forgetting to lock the door, he said.
Ironically, when the family lived in Toledo, where they were far more fearful of crime and careful about locking doors, they were never burglarized, he said.
Their loss last month ended up being $60 to $80. Everything except the cash and a gift card in Mr. Jakubowski's wallet was recovered. And his credit card companies reported no attempt to use his accounts.
"We feel fortunate that nothing more was lost, that nobody was hurt," Mr. Jakubowski said. "But I tell you what: They're pretty brave to walk in someone's house."
And although the monetary loss was nominal, the burglary has cost the family.
"When someone's in your house, it gives you a bad feeling," he said. "You don't feel as safe as you used to."
The suspect in the cases has eluded police twice, each time after burglarizing a home and then abandoning a stolen vehicle to flee on foot. Most of the vehicles were recovered off Stickney Avenue between East Manhattan Boulevard and Ketcham Avenue, the detective said.
About 4:30 a.m. on July 5, the man allegedly burglarized a home at Ford Road and Simmons Road in Perrysburg Township and then fled from police on foot. Authorities were contacted after a resident reported a burglary and called police while he watched the suspect walk around a neighbor's home and then get into the caller's vehicle. The suspect then led police on a several-second chase until turning into a dark alley. He jumped from a running vehicle and fled through a back yard, authorities said.
About 12:30 a.m. last Friday, he escaped from a vehicle reported stolen from Oregon at the BP station at Manhattan Boulevard and Stickney Avenue in Toledo, said Detective James Gross of the Perrysburg Township police department.
So far no one has been hurt in the incidents, but the possibility of that happening is a major concern, Detective Yunker said.
"It's only a matter of time that the resident wakes up and confronts him," the detective said. "We want to catch him before that happens."
Area residents are requested to report immediately any suspicious people, to keep the doors and windows to their houses locked, porches and back doors lit, and purses and wallets away from the windows and generally out of sight.
Most of the burglary victims told authorities they hadn't locked their homes as a practice overnight.
Some of the areas impacted by the burglaries include Clay Township, Sylvania, Perrysburg, Perrysburg Township, Oregon, Sylvania Township, Monclova Township, and Lake Township.
Contact Mike Sigov at:
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