Police in Florida arrest 'Silver Thief' cat burglar

MIAMI Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:38pm EDT

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MIAMI (Reuters) - Police in Florida said they have arrested a notorious cat burglar known as "The Silver Thief" who targeted celebrity mansions and homes in wealthy enclaves across the U.S. South and East Coast, stealing silver antiques and other expensive items.

Blane David Nordahl, 51, was arrested in the town of Hilliard, outside Jacksonville, Florida, on Monday on two outstanding warrants from Atlanta, Georgia, authorities said.

The warrants were for burglary with an intent to commit a first degree felony and conspiracy to commit a felony," Sheriff Bill Leeper of Nassau County, Florida, said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether Nordahl had obtained an attorney or when and where he was due to make his initial court appearance.

Leeper described Nordahl, who he said was being investigated by the FBI at the time of his arrest, as "one of the nation's most notorious cat burglars." He was nicknamed "Burglar to the Stars" as well as "The Silver Thief."

Police in Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky have reported a rash of burglaries that follow similar methods, targeting homes in wealthy areas and skillfully evading home security systems.

Leeper said Nordahl, who had been caught numerous times before, previously served an eight-year prison sentence for stealing cutlery from the home of Ivana Trump.

He was alleged to have netted $3 million from about 150 burglaries throughout his long criminal career and his celebrity victims included Bruce Springsteen, Leeper said.

In a typical burglary, Leeper said Nordahl would approach a "fancy home" at night while the owners were asleep and carefully remove panes of glass from a French door, for instance. A master thief, he avoided any alarms that might be triggered by picking a lock, the sheriff said.

"He would even sometimes sneak past sleeping dogs. When all the alarms were disabled, he would remove entire drawers full of silver items and take them outside to test them with his own silver kit," Leeper said.

"He would leave only with the finest and most expensive items," he added.

(Reporting by Tom Brown; Editing by Ken Wills)

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