They say the cover-up is worse than the crime — and in this case, the cover-up left a home in ruins, according to police.
Two burglars broke into an empty home near New Smyrna Beach, Florida, in the early morning hours Wednesday, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. Angela Halcomb, 32, stood watch as a lookout while David Debenedictis, 35, went inside the home and began sawing open a safe filled with cash, jewelry and guns, deputies said.
Then suspects’ plan started going haywire, according to the sheriff’s office.
Debenedictis hurt himself as he was breaking open the safe, leaving evidence of the crime, deputies suspect. To cover it up, the pair allegedly decided to torch the home.
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Firefighters rushed to the blaze just before 6 a.m. Wednesday. By the time they were at the scene (15 minutes after the fire call had come in) flames had impacted 75 percent of the home, a Volusia County spokesperson said, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. About 25 firefighters battled the fire.
Once the fire died down, investigators looked inside and noticed that a saw had been used to wrest open the safe, according to the sheriff’s office. Authorities also noticed that weapons, jewelry and cash had disappeared from it.
The robbers had absconded with an industrial grill and two trailers as well, according to deputies.
It didn’t take long to find the suspects.
On Thursday, deputies caught up with Halcomb while she was driving a vehicle that had been stolen in an unrelated incident. The car was littered with items stolen from the torched home, according to the sheriff’s office.
Deputies said there was a Florida license plate from one of the stolen trailers resting on a rear floorboard. The stolen jewelry was visible on the passenger seat in front, and a stolen pressure washer was sitting in back, according to the sheriff’s office.
The homeowner told police all the items belonged to her, deputies said.
Debenedictis and Halcomb were arrested and are being held at the Volusia County Branch Jail.
Debenedictis faces arson, grand theft, armed burglary and weapons charges, according to the sheriff’s office. Halcomb faces arson, armed burglary and grand theft charges.
During a search of Debenedictis’ home, detective uncovered “a vast amount of what they believe is stolen property,” the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities expect more charges for Debenedictis.
He’s previously been convicted of grand theft, armed robbery and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, deputies said.
Debenedictis is being held on $75,000 bond. Halcomb is being held on $62,000 bond, the sheriff’s office said.