Newlyweds Zack and Roz Alves are expecting their first child next month, but they’ve been distracted from the new life ahead of them by an intrusive break-in at their northwest Morgan Hill home that resulted in the loss of irreplaceable items whose value exceeds money.
Of the $20,000 worth of items stolen in the Oct. 9 burglary – primarily electronics and jewelry – the couple is most concerned about retrieving Roz’ engagement ring and wedding band.
They are offering a $2,000 reward for the return of the rings, “no questions asked,” said Zack, who is also on a mission to warn his neighbors that this type of crime happens in Morgan Hill, and they should be cautious.
Roz, 34, said when Zack proposed in 2011 with the engagement ring – a Shane Co. princess-cut 1.01-carat diamond – it was a “complete surprise, even though we had been dating forever.”
The Alves just got married at the beginning of this year at the Hyatt Highlands in Carmel.
“It just reminds me of our wedding. Although it’s a material thing, it’s very sentimental to me,” said Roz, a lifelong Morgan Hill resident and Live Oak High School graduate who works at Extravaganza Salon in Morgan Hill. She only recently removed the rings because they were growing tighter around her finger due to her pregnancy. The Alves are expecting a girl Nov. 21, Zack said. He works as a customer engagement manager at Plantronics in Santa Cruz.
Also stolen from the home on Grand Prix Way were a fourth-generation heirloom – Roz’ great grandmother’s wedding ring – other jewelry and electronics items, Zack, 37, explained at the home Tuesday. The suspects even “ransacked” the nursery the couple had prepared for their baby’s arrival, Zack said.
“Miraculously,” Zack said, he found a couple of the stolen electronics items a couple days after the burglary. Embarking on his own search of pawn shops and flea markets, he found his Playstation 3 and Roz’ Dell laptop computer for sale by the same vendor at the Capitol Expressway flea market in San Jose.
After calling San Jose police at the flea market and recovering those two items, Zack said “it seems the seller got the items second- or third-hand” after questioning the vendor.
Making such an unlikely find boosts the Alves’ hope that other items can be recovered.
“That’s a needle in a haystack, so maybe there’s a chance we can find the ring,” he resolved.
Gilroy Police responded to the Alves’ report of the burglary and are leading the investigation, as Morgan Hill Police were in the midst of a department-wide inspection when the crime was reported. The investigation is ongoing, and as of Wednesday the Alves had not heard if any suspects had been identified or arrested.
Zack has spent the last few days getting the word out, passing flyers around their neighborhood on and around Grand Prix Way, depicting photos of the rings, a description of the incident and Zack’s contact information. Alves said his goal in alerting the neighborhood is not only to recover his wife’s rings – he also hopes other residents take note and make it harder for future burglars to victimize them.
“Maybe people could learn from our lesson,” said Alves, who immediately contacted a security company to install an alarm system in the home after the burglary. “Your house is only as strong as the weakest part of it.”
Zack figures the thief or thieves entered a gate to the backyard or jumped the fence surrounding the backyard, then made their way into the home through an old pet door at the bottom of a side door leading into the garage. The Alves do not have any pets, and boarded up the pet entry after the burglary.
Zack also noted that his classic muscle car – which he does not drive every day – was in the garage and the thief or thieves would have seen the car as soon as they entered through the pet door.
“This (car) could have been a daily driver” to a stranger unfamiliar with the property, Zack said. The fact that the thief or thieves “didn’t stop” when they noticed a car that might have indicated someone was home at the time “scares me a little bit,” Zack said.
He also noticed the suspect or suspects opened several empty pieces of luggage in the garage, and stole some empty laundry bags – perhaps used to carry away the items stolen from the home. The burglar or burglars then entered Zack’s home office, where they stole a video game system and “anything they could find that was small.”
Then the suspect or suspects found the jewelry box in the bathroom of the master bedroom, the contents of which they dumped into whatever they used to carry the items away, Zack said.
“They took things they could carry away on foot,” Zack speculated. “It seems like they were in here five or six minutes, tops.”
The suspect or suspects took care to leave behind valuable items that had the couple’s name or phone number imprinted on them.
A corner of the living room covered with a brand new stroller, bassinet, car seat, Huggies and other gifts recently given to the couple for a baby shower was untouched by the thief or thieves, Zack noted.
He thinks the burglary happened around 2 p.m., though his wife noticed it first when she arrived about 4:30 p.m. that day. A landscaping crew was working in the yard about 12 p.m.
Two neighbors told Zack after the incident they noticed a suspicious woman in the neighborhood early that afternoon. One of the neighbors said the woman approached the home and lingered outside briefly before riding away on a bicycle.
Alves’ bicycle, a green Redline Monocog with straight handlebars, was also missing after the burglary. But he can’t confirm the woman seen outside his home earlier that day was riding his bicycle.
MHPD press releases and incident logs indicate that home and automobile break-ins are a frequent occurrence in Morgan Hill, though Detective Scott Martin said the number of incidents does not appear to have spiked recently.
In 2012, Morgan Hill Police responded to a total of 695 property crime reports, including burglaries, petty theft and vehicle theft, according to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reports. In 2011, the City responded to 690 reports of property crime.
Aside from the material loss, the incident has also had somewhat of a traumatic effect on the couple, who has lived in the home on Grand Prix Way for about two years.
“The fact that somebody was in our home and rifled through our stuff – that’s the one thing that I think of,” said Roz.