PINECREST, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida woman has been placed under house arrest after, police said, she stole thousands of dollars in valuables from at least three homes at an upscale Pinecrest neighborhood while the residents were away on vacation.
According to police, 37-year-old Jessica Coggins burglarized her neighbors’ home while they were out of town. Investigators said the latest incident took place between Friday and Sunday, this past weekend.
“We have found that she has at least broken into three neighbors’ homes,” said Pinecrest spokesperson Michelle Hammontree. “There may be more.”
Detectives said Coggins lives across the street and appeared to be interested while police were at the scene of the most recent burglary. Investigators thought she seemed suspicious, so a detective decided to sift through her trash.
“Based on her behavior and the many questions she asked our detectives, they thought it was a good idea to look through her garbage,” said Hammontree. “It was detective’s instinct, and it turned out to be a very good decision.”
Police found coins from various countries and photographs of a second neighbor and his family. That resident had reported a theft several months earlier. “She’s been breaking into homes as far as six months back,” said Hammontree.
Police said they found two jewelry boxes and a prescription bottle belonging to a neighbor.
Barbara Jacobs, the owner of that prescription bottle, invited 7News inside her home to show what she believes Coggins did. “She apparently came in here and started here and sees that there’s nothing there, so I’m figuring she came here,” she said as she opened two bedroom drawers, “and she says, ‘Oh, glitzy things,’ so she spent some time here.”
Barbara said Coggins then went into her bathroom. “She got two pairs of earrings and one bottle of medicine,” she said.
Police said Coggins would wait until neighbors went on vacation to break into their homes. The value of the jewelry and coins is estimated at $20,000.
Another victim, Lambert Jacobs, said he is especially upset because he and his family trusted Coggins. “We know the couple. They have three young kids,” he said.
“And our granddaughter baby-sat for them,” said Barbara.
Officials said police found even more items that didn’t belong to Coggins. “During her arrest, in her purse, we found articles that belonged to a third victim,” said Hammontree.
The third neighbor also happens to be the parent of the second neighbor and lives close by. “It is too bad. It’s disappointing,” said Barbara.
Coggins was arrested Monday and charged with burglary to an unoccupied dwelling and grand theft in the third degree.
Appearing in court on Tuesday, Coggins attempted to explain her actions. “It’s a compulsion, judge,” said her attorney.
Court records show Coggins had been arrested in the past for theft, but the charges were dropped.
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