Burglars Hit Three Real Estate Offices

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In the early morning hours Thursday, burglars broke into three real estate offices in Pine and made off with a few hundred dollars and three cameras.


Gila County Sheriff's deputies say they have a suspect in the burglaries of Prudential Arrowhead Realty, Sunny Mountain Realty and Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty, but are not releasing names until charges are filed, said Sgt. Bob Birgam.


"(He or she was) probably the stupidest criminal who ever walked," Ray Pugel, owner of Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty said, "because real estate offices do not keep money."


"When they got into Bishop, the alarm went off and it scared them away," Birgam said.


The office's alarm sounded at 3:04 a.m. Pugel said. Once activated, the alarm contacts Pugel and the sheriff's department. He got out of bed and drove the short distance to his Pine office to investigate.


"I didn't see anything that was messed up," he said. He said he shut off the alarm, called off the deputies and went home to bed. It wasn't until later that morning that they realized why the alarm went off.


"I was sitting at my desk and spotted something shiny on the floor. I got up and low and behold the door (to the conference room) had been hit with a rock," she said. The new conference room had just been added to the east side of the building and was not yet covered by the alarm. Burglars had to enter the main office to set off the alarm that Pugel said could be heard by most of the neighbors.


"It is a shame they did not hit our office first," Lee said. "Then they would have got scared off."


At Prudential Arrowhead, the thoughtful thief pried out a window, opened the door and put the unbroken glass back in the pane, said office manager Dale Oestmann.


Prudential was hardest hit, losing one digital camera, two 35 mm cameras and about $200 in cash.


Oestmann said that he could identify the pictures on the film that was in the cameras and that might help deputies build a stronger case.


At Sunny Mountain, owner Wilma Young is still puzzled about how the burglars gained access to the 100-year-old building.


"(They) turned everything upside down and took everything out. They only got away with stamps," Young said. "We felt very fortunate, other than the mess they made."


The case has been submitted to the Gila County Attorney's office to determine if there is enough evidence to press charges.

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