Rash of Break-Ins Stirs Concern at Florida Subdivision where Security Is a Priority

Tom Demirgian thought the security for his house in quiet suburban Davie, Fla., was foolproof.

Along with the 24-hour security guards and fences around the Imagination Farms subdivision where he lives, Demirgian had an alarm system on his doors and windows and a high-quality safe stored in his closet.

But soon after returning home early Friday morning from a Miami Heat game, he saw a suspicious shadow and chased it into the kitchen. More than 30 groggy minutes later, he found himself lying on the floor with his hands and feet bound, bleeding from the head.

After untying himself and calling 911, Demirgian learned from police that he had been one of the more recent victims in a rash of burglaries in the southwest Davie neighborhood.

''People have a false sense of security,'' said Demirgian, 47. ``I really thought I was secure. It's a really nice neighborhood.''

Davie police Lt. Bill Bamford said there have been eight burglaries in Imagination Farms in the past three months -- two on Aug. 27, two on Sept. 21, one on Oct. 29, one on Nov. 4, one early Friday and one Tuesday night. After the Tuesday burglary, police set up a perimeter around the neighborhood and were searching with helicopters, but found no one, Bamford said.

Police have not confirmed whether the burglaries are linked, but Bamford said most of the burglaries happened between 2 and 6 p.m. Demirgian was the only one who walked into a burglary and was assaulted.

The Tuesday night burglary happened about 7 p.m. -- the same time that several burglary victims and homeowners association officials were meeting with Davie police to discuss finding the thieves, said Davie Vice Mayor Judy Paul.

''People are very nervous now, very on-edge, very concerned,'' said Paul, whose district includes Imagination Farms.

``We're going to make a concerted effort to make homeowners more aware of what they can do to be more alert, to protect their neighbors.''

Bamford would not release the exact addresses of where the burglaries occurred, but he said many of them are taking place in the southern end of the neighborhood.

He said the burglars usually take expensive, portable items such as jewelry or cash.

In Demirgian's case, the burglars spent at least an hour and a half prying open a safe in his bedroom closet to steal two Rolex and two Breitling watches, along with $2,000 in cash.

''Whatever they broke in the house with, they had enough tools to work at it awfully hard to pry it open,'' he said.

Demirgian said the isolated surroundings of Imagination Farms may attract burglars. There are also ways for people to get under the fence along Orange Drive, he said.

''It's not Fort Knox, and nor would it be with a bigger fence,'' he said. ``People feel safe that we have a guardhouse and surveillance, but people aren't coming in that way.''

Several neighbors near where Demirgian lives on Southwest 141st Avenue are banding together to patrol the area day and night.

''It's terrible, but we all are very united here,'' said Carmen Tatis, who lives across the street from Demirgian. ``We're all watching for each other.''

Tatis said the Imagination Farms homeowners association is planning to meet Nov. 18 to discuss the burglaries.

Bamford urged residents to report anything that looks suspicious.

As for Demirgian, the rustic allure of Davie may have been deceptive.

''It's a really unnerving experience, and I'm a native Miamian,'' he said. ``I really enjoy living here, I had hoped to make this one of the last places I live, but I don't know.''