Police: Couple stealing during open houses

NEWTOWN TWP., Pa. - August 11, 2010

When Gina Liccardi put her family's home on Alexander Way in Newtown Township, Pa. up for sale, she knew strangers would be walking through it. She never expected anyone to steal anything.

But, at an open house Sunday, she was robbed of more than $20,000 worth of jewelry.

"I had my jewelry hidden underneath clothes. Who would ever think they would open doors and go underneath and shuffle through your clothes?" Gina said.

Gina was actually there when it happened, having stopped back at the house to pick up some cash her daughter mistakenly left on a dresser.

Police say a couple with three children was looking the house over. The kids were in the backyard, the woman stayed on the first floor talking to the real estate agent while the man headed up to Gina's bedroom.

"It was all a setup. They knew what they were doing," Gina said.

"The male and female split up and the realtor could only maintain control over one of them," said Chief Rick Pasqualini of the Newtown Township Police.

Police say the same couple hit another open house at a home nearby, making off with jewelry and the real estate agent's wallet.

Detectives are attempting to track down the couple in the Allentown area. They say a credit card from the real estate agent's wallet was used to buy a pizza.

Meanwhile, police and realtors are warning sellers that hiding valuables in the house isn't going to stop thieves.

"If it's a professional, and a lot of these people are, they know where the hiding places are. They know where to look," said Paul Salvatore of Keller Williams realty. "If it's not in the house it can't be stolen."

Salvatore is telling his clients to move jewelry and valuables out of the house to a bank, a safe deposit box, or a friend's house.

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