The suspect broke in through a garage service door and made his way to the master bedroom, Skokie police Officer Tammy Jacobsen said.
There the suspect confronted the homeowner, who was in the bedroom and partially dressed after just having taken a shower, Jacobsen said. The suspect, carrying a crow bar in his right hand, told the woman he didn't want to hurt her but was there to take her money and jewelry, she said.
During the robbery, the suspect "repeatedly apologized and said he didn't want to do this," but had to because he was unemployed and had to support his children, according to a police report.
Near the end of the incident, the suspect tied the woman's hands behind her back with a phone cord after asking her to give him her cell phone number, Jacobsen said. The burglar told her he would call her to tell her where he was pawning the stolen jewelry so she could get it back, she said.
The woman apparently provided her number but has not been contacted since the incident, Jacobsen said.
The woman was not injured.
The crime was similar to one a few days later in north suburban Niles, where a thief apologized to a woman before snatching her purse Sunday night in the 8800 block of Dempster Street, Niles police said.
It was not immediately known if the incidents are connected.
Anyone with information about the home invasion should call Skokie police at (847) 982-5900.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.