by: Greg Suskin Updated:
YORK, S.C. - Elaine Fox, 66, came home from grocery shopping Thursday afternoon to find a stranger in her driveway in a van. She'd seen people turn around in her driveway before, and didn't think much of it.
As he pulled out past her, he paused to talk.
"I rolled my window down, and he rolled his window down, and he looked at me very calmly and said, 'I got the wrong address,'" Fox said.
He drove off, and Fox became suspicious when she walked into her home on Springlake Road and smelled cigarette smoke.
"It smelled like it was on someone's clothes," she said. "Then I noticed the Christmas stuff was gone."
Fox had bought Christmas gifts for her grandchildren. The clothes and shoes were still unwrapped and stacked up. The house was not ransacked, and it seemed nothing was out of order. In her bedroom, Fox realized the theft was severe. Rings belonging to her mother, and a nearly 100-year-old wedding ring that was her grandmother's were also stolen.
"It was not a good feeling. I felt completely vulnerable," Fox said.
She showed Channel 9 why it took a while for her and her husband to find out how the burglar got inside. All the doors and windows appeared secure.
However, on closer inspection, they noticed locks on the windows were turned, and a window screen was bent.
York Police Detective Billy Mumaw said the burglar took care to replace the screen when he left, and even slid the couch back in place against the window.
"It definitely tells you he's got a little bit more experience. It's definitely not his first time," Mumaw said.
The burglar had parked his van on the side of the house by the garage where most neighbors wouldn't notice it.
Police dusted windows and door frames for fingerprints, but wouldn't comment on whether anything was found.
Fox said she didn't sleep at all Thursday night, especially when she made one last unnerving discovery as she went to bed.
"I read every night before bed, so I reached to pick up my nook to read the last chapter of a book I was reading, and it was gone," she said.
The burglar is described as a white man, 35 to 40 years old, with brown hair and long sideburns that reached to his goatee. He was driving a silver minivan that could be an older model Honda Odyssey.
York police believe he could've been watching houses in that neighborhood for some time.
If you have any information, call Crimestoppers of York County at 877-409-4321.
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