The afternoon John Burgy buried his mother, he and his wife, Danutsia, returned to their south Marysville home to discover someone had stolen two safes. The strongboxes contained hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, gold, watches, firearms and critical paperwork that included deeds and family wills.
"It was like getting hit with a sledgehammer," said John Burgy, a retired Everett fire marshal.
Some of what was hauled out in the large safes has deep sentimental value. At the top of that list is the strip of cloth with a prisoner number from when Danutsia Burgy's father, who was held by the Nazis at the Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II. A Catholic from Poland, he was hauled to the notorious camp on German soil where tens of thousands of people died or were executed.
Gone, too, are John Burgy's commission papers, awards and citations from the 20 years he spent in the U.S. Coast Guard reserves.
Danutsia Burgy tears up as she thinks about the loss of her mother's birth certificate from 1922 Poland as well as her mother's death certificate and wedding ring. There, too, was an ancient coin dating back to the times of Alexander the Great that her mom and she had scrimped to buy. She lost a briefcase containing gold flatware from Germany, her father's Rolex watch worth tens of thousands of dollars, a Tahitian black pearl necklace and expensive sets of Hawaiian jewelry.
"We are talking about antiquities and people who survived death camps," John Burgy said. "They took our documents. They took our identity. We lost our world."
Their losses filled a 13-page report submitted to the Marysville Police Department. The list includes more than 100 pieces of jewelry and a dozen firearms. It totals more than $400,000 in losses.
"This is not a typical residential burglary we see in Marysville where you have a value so high," Marysville police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux said.
Lamoureux said the police department hopes to get some leads because of the uniqueness of the items that were stolen. No arrests have been made.
The burglary occurred in the 7600 block of Soper Hill Road, most likely between noon and 4:15 p.m. Friday. The couple live on a wooded property of 15 acres.
John, 66, and Danutsia, 59, were at the Marysville Cemetery, attending the funeral for his 90-year-old mother.
John Burgy imagines burglars invading his home as he kissed his mother's coffin and said goodbye.
Afterward, he received a phone call from his son-in-law who stopped at the home to drop off silverware after the funeral reception.
When the Burgys arrived, they noticed that their beagle, Abbey, was in the driveway and appeared to be spooked. The doors to their home were open.
They got a sinking feeling when they noticed drag marks across the hardwood kitchen floor. Adding insult to injury, it appeared the burglars took a board from the garage to help move the safes.
The couple figured everything locked up in the safes was out of the reach of thieves. Each safe weighed hundreds of pounds.
The burglars apparently hauled them out of the house.
John Burgy has lived in the same home for more than 35 years without a break-in. The couple has been married for 19 years.
He believes there was more than one burglar given the heft of the safes.
Before leaving, the couple locked their front door and the dead bolt, he said.
They don't know how the crooks broke in.
They can't tell if a lock was picked or the thieves somehow gained access through a window.
Two doors inside the home were broken.
"We are talking about people with size and ability," John Burgy said. "It was so well executed. I think they are well-organized. They were very selective of what they took and didn't take."
The thieves also stole televisions, laptops, iPads and other items not secured inside the safes.
The couple look back and wonder if their home wasn't being cased.
A few weeks ago, they were paid a visit by a man in a meat truck who drove the third of a mile up their one-lane driveway. The questions he asked made John Burgy suspicious.
Around the same time, a blond woman who appeared to be in her 30s parked across the street from their home and drove behind Danutsia Burgy into north King County.
Now, the Burgys are coming to grips with all that was lost.
At one point, they realized that they weren't hearing the chimes to their clock anymore.
It, too, was stolen.
The recession has brought a steady stream of burglaries to Marysville.
"We are being inundated with residential burglaries as it seems every other jurisdiction in the county and state are," Lamoureux said. "I liken it to an epidemic. Property crimes are just through the roof right now."
Danutsia Burgy hopes that someone might have seen something suspicious in the neighborhood last Friday that can be passed onto police. She wants the culprits caught and jailed.
"I don't want anyone else to go through this," she said.
Anyone with a tip about the burglary is asked to call the Marysville Police Department at 360-363-8300 and ask for a detective.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org
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