A Ponte Vedra Beach couple is recovering after approximately $50,000 in jewelry, family heirlooms, cash and other valuables were recently stolen from their home on Poinciana Way.
“Just to know people were in my house was a very scary feeling,” said Patti Billingsley, whose home was burglarized Thursday, Nov. 9. “I felt very violated. I know I’ll never replace that jewelry.
Billingsley left her home around 2:30 p.m. and returned at 6 p.m. After preparing and eating dinner and reading, she realized that multiple drawers in her bedroom and bathroom and a jewelry box had been ransacked and that jewelry was missing. Among the stolen items were Billingsley's 58-year-old wedding rings, her husband's diamond wedding ring, his father’s wedding ring, a 24-carat watch, a charm bracelet that her husband gave to her at the beginning of their marriage and a number of other pieces that Billingsley collected over the years.
“These memories will never go to my children or grandchildren,” said Billingsley. “Those memories will never be able to go down the line. That’s another sad part.”
Billingsley's husband told the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office (SJSO) that an envelope containing $3,000 was also taken from his closet. Billingsley additionally noted that her purse, containing two credit cards and her driver’s license, was taken, as well as her collection of sterling flatware.
The Billingsleys said to SJSO that they routinely left the front door unlocked and did so on this occasion. Deputies said there were no signs of forced entry and that all other entrances to the house were locked.
Billingsley said, at first, she was embarrassed about leaving her door unlocked. But nearly two weeks after the burglary, she said she’s talked to several Ponte Vedra residents who have recently experienced a similar situation, many of whom, she said, locked their doors and live in gated communities. In these situations, she said the burglars used tools like a crowbar to enter the home.
“Just because the door was unlocked, that wasn’t going to keep them away,” she said.
Billingsley commended SJSO following the burglary, saying that deputies have been routinely patrolling her area in Old Ponte Vedra Beach. SJSO is still searching for the burglar.
Moving forward, Billingsley said she’s learned to be more aware and careful, yet she’s unsettled by the fact that sometimes there’s little you can do to prevent such burglaries from happening.
“There’s no precautions you can take,” she said. “You just need to be aware and be careful. That’s a scary thing.”