When Mickey and Anne Harvey left their rural Hillsboro home the morning of Jan. 31, they had no reason to suspect thieves would target them. Sometime before they returned at 9 p.m., 10 guns, a television set, a new converter box, and peace-of-mind were stolen from their home.
“The first thing I noticed was the front window was wide open,” Mickey Harvey said. “I knew right away someone had been there; the screen was tore off, there were boot prints below other windows. It looked like they tried to kick in the front door, but the deadbolt lock held.”
The Harveys decided not to enter their home, but called 911 and waited for Marion County Sheriff’s Deputies to arrive and investigate the scene first.
“I thought it was really strange that none of our cats and dogs were on the porch like usual,” Anne Harvey said. “But then I noticed they had all gone through the open window and were in the house having a heyday.”
Apparently, more than one suspect was involved in the heist. The Harveys believe a vehicle with large tire tread pulled up next to the house. Tracks in the dirt and disturbed items near the house indicate the thieves looked through several windows and tried to kick in the front door before entering the home through a front porch window.
A boot print on the front porch door left telltale signs for investigators. Though the doorknob was removed, the trim splintered, and the front of the door punctured, the lock held and entry at that point denied.
The window was not so formidable.
“This is an old farm house,” Mickey Harvey said. “It was built probably in the 1930’s. We still have the old double-hung windows with the Depression-era glass. The storm window latch wasn’t tight and they shimmied up both panes of glass after tearing out the screen.”
Deputies determined that once inside the Harvey’s house, the burglars seemed to have specific items in mind to take. They did not ransack dressers or look through jewelry boxes, but instead found their way upstairs to the master bedroom and a locked gun cabinet.
“They broke out the glass in the front of the gun cabinet and took 10 of 11 guns in there,” Harvey said. “I have no idea why they left one gun. Maybe their arms were full, maybe they somehow knew that gun was not from my dad’s estate sale 15 years ago, who knows?”
The 10 guns taken were inherited by Harvey from his father and grandfather’s collection when his father, Leo Earl Harvey, died in 1997. Several belonged to his great-uncle Jim.
“I guess I never really knew what I had or what they were worth until now that they have been taken,” Harvey said. “It’s very sad though, because there were some very unique items and several that were special to me.”
One of the guns taken, a J.C. Higgins Model 50 .30-06 bolt-action rifle, had an ornately carved stock handle featuring a horse. Two Ruger semi-automatic .22 pistols were identical except one, which had belonged to Harvey’s grandfather, showed more wear.
“We have a list of all the guns from when the estate was settled,” Harvey said. “I hope that people will take some time to look that over (see sidebar) and keep it in mind. I wouldn’t be surprised if those guns are still here in the local community somewhere.”
In addition to taking guns, thieves at the Harvey’s home took a fairly new 32” flat screen Samsung HD television set and an unopened converter box. While very thankful that more was not missing, the Harveys puzzle about why $150 cash was left in plain sight in the kitchen, along with prescription drugs, and other valuable items.
“We are just left with a lot of questions,” Anne Harvey said. “Why leave one gun? Why was my purse moved but nothing taken from it? Why was our computer turned on, but no files accessed according to the history report? Why did they look in the closet with the vacuum cleaner but not the ones in other rooms where more valuable things were stored?”
Harvey said she did not think the thieves who burgled their home necessarily knew them; they just were looking for a random house to target, and got lucky with the guns.
“I just want others to be more alert,” she said. “Pay attention to vehicles going by, check to make sure your house is secure before you leave. Notice things that might be out of the norm.”
Harvey said they noticed recently that empty beer cans were appearing along their road more frequently.
“There is a trail that goes right past our house,” she said. “Maybe we should follow those.”
In the four weeks since thieves stole their belongings, Mickey and Anne Harvey said they think differently.
“We constantly find ourselves trying to think like a robber in order to get some more clues to solve this,” she said. “We question why they parked where they did, which rooms did they enter and why, how big or small were they, why did they pass things through the window instead of just opening the door from the inside and taking them out — would have been much easier! Those kind of things; it’s hard to stop thinking about it.”
The Harveys and Marion County Deputy Sheriff Wilma Mueller offered a few tips to help others prevent a potential farm/home robbery. In addition to being more alert, homeowners need to learn to know their neighbors, and what vehicles they drive on a regular basis. Personal schedules should be varied so there is not a predictable time when the whole family might be gone; park vehicles in the drive in different places; make sure front and back door locks are secure and windows shut and latch properly; put up trail game cameras; put up security system signs; and keep a list of serial numbers for all valuable household items.
The Harveys said the Marion County Sheriff Department did not give them much hope about the retrieval of items stolen from their home on Jan. 31, though Mueller indicated circumstances seemed similar to other burglaries in the county.
“We just hope that by putting this information out to the public others might be more aware and that whoever did this will know, we are all looking for you,” Mickey Harvey said.
- Ruger semi-auto .22 pistol with box and holster, standard model
- Ruger semi-auto .22 pistol with holster standard model
- Ruger single six .22 revolver old-model
- Remington 870 Wing master shotgun, 410 gauge, ribbed barrel
- Remington 870 Wing master shotgun 12 gauge, plain bbl.
- Winchester SS Model 37 20 gauge shotgun
- Mossberg Model 185K-B 20 gauge, bolt action
- J.C. Higgins Model 50 30-06, bolt action rifle, carved stock
- Remington field master pump .22 rifle Model 121
- Remington field master pump .22 rifle