- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 2004

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. - An exclusive town that is home to the likes of pitcher Randy Johnson, rocker Alice Cooper and former Vice President Dan Quayle is also apparently prime real estate for burglars.

A thief, or more likely a band of thieves, has hit hundreds of the area’s priciest homes in the past 11 years, beating alarms in a low-tech way: by throwing a rock through a window.

After years of working Paradise Valley, northeast of Phoenix, the thieves have moved on to other ritzy areas nearby. The most recent heist was on Nov. 20.

“They know what they are doing,” said Paradise Valley police Lt. Ron Warner, whose department put together a multiagency task force devoted solely to the capture of the bandits. A $26,000 reward has been posted for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Among the burglars’ notable victims are former Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Steve Finley and former first baseman Mark Grace, as well as Mr. Quayle. Other prominent residents of Paradise Valley include former NBA star Charles Barkley, retired news anchor Hugh Downs and former Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy.

Mr. Quayle was home when the burglar struck. When Mr. Quayle quickly turned on a light, the thief fled empty-handed.

“Haven’t they found that guy yet?” Mr. Quayle said jokingly of the 1999 break-in.

Master bedrooms or bathrooms are targeted, and the thieves never leave the master suite, the one place in a home where motion-activated alarms generally are not in use.

Police estimate the thieves have hit 323 homes and racked up at least $12 million in loot, including a 10.5-carat diamond ring in one heist. Almost none of the stolen goods have resurfaced, and no one has gotten a good look at the thieves.

In Sharyl Bancroft’s case, the thief used her pillow cases to load up her fine jewelry and collectible guns in the July 2002 burglary.

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