Jeremy Smay moved his family to St. Petersburg from the mid-west to start a new chapter in their lives. But their new dreams would be crushed after their house was tented for termites.
"The house here was tented like this. They had just used a knife and sliced right down the middle of the tent here," he pointed out Wednesday afternoon.
Smay already had a bad feeling when he left his home on 52nd Street South three and a half weeks ago.
"I had this gut feeling that something was going to happen because of the way the home was left during the fumigation process," he said.
His front window was left open under the tent to air out the house. The Saint Petersburg Police Department said that when Christopher Alexander decided to break in.
"Some of the items that were taken are worth no monetary value what so ever they were family treasures," he said.
Smay said Alexander stole about $8,000 worth of new electronics, jewelry and even a gun. But he also got away with the family's sense of security.
"Seeing my wife peeking out the window at 4 in the morning every time she hears a noise checking the locks and the windows is the most heartbreaking out of it all," he said.
Officers caught up with Alexander on Monday around nine in the morning. They were responding to a burglary in progress on 32nd Avenue North. The resident at that address had observed Alexander attempting to break into his house through the back door.
When officers arrived, Alexander fled and entered the garage of another residence down the street and tried to hide from the police. A K-9 officer tracked him to the garage where he was found hiding in the rafters.
Alexander became a suspect in a series of burglaries to homes that had been tented for fumigation. Over the previous five months, twelve residences that had been tented had been broken into.
He told officers he would break into the fumigated homes, but would have his face covered with a painters mask to protect him which didn't always work.
"He was actually breathing in this toxic chemical and on at least one occasion he acknowledge he got extremely sick from going inside," said Mike Puetz with the St.Petersburg Police Department.
Alexander became a suspect in late June when his wife, Candice Alexander sold some property taken in one such burglary to an antique store.
As for Smay and his family, they're looking to move again and next time he will not take any chances if his home needs to be tented.
"I will be sitting out front of my house ready for anybody to approach," he said.
Christopher Alexander is being charged with six counts of residential burglary with three of those cases being to tented residences.
Detectives are also looking for a co-defendant who they believe participated with Alexander in several of the burglaries. He is Michale Murphy, 36 and his current whereabouts are unknown. Murphy is 5'10 145lbs with red hair and brown eyes. He has a tattoo of a tiger on the inside of his left forearm and one of a dragon on his right.
St.Pete PD are asking for the public's help in finding Murphy. Anyone with information should call the non-emergency number at 727-893-7780, Text a Tip to 727-420-8911 or leave a confidential tip at 727-892-5000.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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