A 23-year-old Riviera Beach man has been charged by town police with stealing a Mercedes from one Palm Beach home and then breaking into another one hour later.
The man was charged with unarmed burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, unarmed burglary of an occupied dwelling and grand theft larceny. As of Wednesday, he was being held in the Palm Beach County Jail on $452,000 bail.
Police say the man first stole a gray 2014 Mercedes sedan from one home early in the morning of Nov. 20, then drove the stolen car to another home, where he broke in. The car was reported missing from its owner’s driveway just before 8 a.m. that day, police records show.
The owner’s daughter, who was in possession of the car when it was stolen, said she last had seen it in the driveway about 4:30 that morning. About 40 minutes after police responded to the call about the missing Mercedes, officers received another call about a burglary in progress at another home.
The homeowners, a husband and wife, told police that the wife was downstairs with their infant son when she heard noises coming from the hallway. At first she thought it was her husband, who was sleeping in another room that night because of a cold. She grew suspicious when she looked into the hallway and saw a man in a red shirt, knowing that wasn’t what her husband was wearing, police said.
When she asked the man what he was doing in her house, he at first did not reply and walked away from her, police said. The woman put down her son and followed the man, asking again why he was in the house.
He replied that he was a cleaner, according to arrest reports. She noticed a black bag in his hands as he walked away, and she told police later that the bag was not hers.
She continued to follow him as he left through the house’s side exit, police reports state. She saw him get into a gray Mercedes sedan that was parked in their driveway, and she used her cellphone to take photos of the car.
When she went back into her house, she found several items missing from her master bedroom and master bathroom area, including her engagement ring, a 4.5-karat yellow diamond with platinum band valued at about $150,000; a platinum wedding band wrapped in diamonds valued at about $75,000; and a St. Christopher bracelet in yellow gold with 12 one-karat diamonds valued at $75,000, police said.
Police soon realized the cases were connected, and officers began looking for the stolen Mercedes. They found it in Riviera Beach, backed into an alley in the 800 block of West First Street.
The officer who found the car noticed that a house next to the alley had a camera pointed in that direction. The officer checked with the homeowner, but the camera was not working. The officer then showed the homeowner a photo of the person suspected of stealing the car and breaking into the home, and “she began to get emotional,” reports show. She indicated the man was inside her house, and he turned out to be her son.
The man was arrested without incident, police said, and admitted stealing the Mercedes. A Palm Beach police detective found the key fob for the stolen Mercedes on a table next to the man’s bed.
The man later admitted breaking into the house after seeing an electric bicycle in the driveway. When he stopped to steal the bike, he realized the charger would not be with it, so he went into the house to find the charger, police said. That’s when he was spotted by the homeowner.
Palm Beach police arrested the same man in 2016 on charges of stealing a vehicle and fleeing, police spokesman Capt. Will Rothrock said. The man’s father was arrested by Palm Beach police and charged with burglary in 2010, Rothrock said.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Riviera man charged with car theft, break-in at two Palm Beach houses