Thieves steal family keepsakes after breaking into car, finding keys to home

Eyewitness News Exclusive
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A family's personal and irreplaceable items were stolen when someone broke into their car on the Museum Campus, then burglarized their home miles away.

"This was open with stuff strewn all over the place," John Culver said as he recalled the condition he found his master bedroom when he walked in.

It was the first indication he had that something was wrong. His home had been burglarized by thieves who stole whatever looked like it might be valuable. They fit whatever they could into pillow cases they used to carry the stuff out.

It turns out they got little of any value to anyone else, but the items were of great value to Culver, including hand-written notes from his deceased father and his First Communion book.

"The only things I had from my dad and his dad and his dad," Culver said. "It's almost entirely sentimental. There's no way to replace this stuff."

Culver said there were no signs of breaking and entering in the house, because the thieves apparently had a key. Shortly before they broke into the house, they apparently broke into a car parked outside the Field Museum where his son was on a field trip. They stole his backpack, which contained a wallet with an ID that had the address and keys.

"It could only happen through a colossal set of unfortunate circumstances," Culver said.

Culver said he believes the thieves were inside his house for less than 10 minutes. He has since replaced the locks on the doors. He said insurance will cover the financial cost of what he lost, including some laptop computers, but that's pretty minimal. The family keepsakes are likely gone for good.

Culver is just thankful no one was home at the time and no one was hurt.

"The voice in my head keeps screaming it could be a lot worse," he said.

Police dusted the home for fingerprints and other evidence, but they have few leads at this point. They advise keeping valuables out of sight if you leave them in your car.

Culver also said he regrets not taking pictures of his family keepsakes.
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