It was 3:24 a.m. last Friday morning and Dana and Michael Gabriel were sleeping in their home in Calverton when they heard the howling.
The family’s 3-year-old miniature schnauzer, Max, was awake and barking at the dining room window. Mr. Gabriel went downstairs to the window and looked outside into the dark; he didn’t see anything.
Mr. Gabriel never looked down, where the equipment for the family’s salt water pool was.
“Who would have thought to look at the pool filter?” Ms. Gabriel later said. Max kept barking at the window and Mr. Gabriel saw what appeared to be two figures run away from the window, away from the house, across the yard and jump over a neighbor’s fence.
The family assumed it was an animal and went back to sleep. It wasn’t until the next morning that they realized their nearly $2,000 pool filter system near the dining room window had been carefully disconnected and stolen.
“This is a quiet neighborhood,” Ms. Gabriel said. “[Now] everybody’s aware.”
Burglars struck at five properties in the Village Green housing development last week, stealing pool filters and yard equipment form sheds, according to Riverhead police reports.
Three properties on Williams Way South and two properties on West Alfred Avenue — including the Gabriels’ — were reportedly targeted. At one of the houses on Williams Way South, a weed-whacker was taken, though it was later found on the front lawn of the property.
Ms. Gabriel said she believes the thieves who stole her pool filter knew what they were doing; they unhooked the filter system using specialized equipment and turned off the valves that would have caused the missing filter to overflow.
Next-door neighbor Nick Carpenzano lives between two of the victims. His property wasn’t burglarized.
“We have a shed in the back. We have it locked,” he said. “I didn’t hear anything that night. I must’ve been sound asleep.”
Mr. Carpenzano said the development — which has a Neighborhood Watch — hasn’t had problems like this before.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It’s a great neighborhood.”
Detectives are investigating the thefts.