Dallas Crook Poses as Home Buyer

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Coutesy Highland Park PoliceStephen Breed must like looking at houses around Dallas. But the problem is, he's accused of having sticky fingers. The man is suspected of stealing more than $20,000 worth of jewelry from a home in the exclusive community of Highland Park, Dick Cheney's former 'hood.

The 53-year-old Breed, who police say posed as a motivated real estate buyer, sometimes uses the name "Max Holloway." He's already facing theft charges elsewhere.

According to Highland Park police, Breed hits open houses or actually makes an appointment with an agent to see a home. Once inside, he roams around surreptitiously looking for valuables, preferring jewelry. If so, he's certainly come to the right neighborhood.
The Dallas neighborhood is loaded with homes priced up to $15 million
. At an open house last month in Highland Park, Breed is believed to have taken more than $20,000 worth of jewelry, including an 18-karat-gold necklace and an 18-karat-gold bracelet studded with rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

Police don't think this is Breed's first rodeo. They believe he committed similar crimes while looking at homes in Collin County, north of Dallas, but is now scouting bigger homes for bigger bling.

Real estate agents say these types of crimes took place a while back but may be returning, thanks to the tough economy. Homeowners should watch their valuables during open houses. In Dallas several years ago, an agent with the now-defunct firm of Abio, Adleta & Poston was held up at gunpoint during an open house. The agent, who is still selling real estate with another firm, says she won't hold an open house open now without an armed, offduty Dallas police officer in the home.

Realtors should remind sellers to hide valuables. Or better yet, take all their jewelry to a safe deposit box, or keep it under lock-and-key at a friend's house.

And if you are trying to save money by selling your home on your own, nail down the fine artwork and get the bling out of the house for safekeeping.

See Dallas homes for sale at AOL Real Estate.
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