Raleigh man says life savings gone after duo breaks into home, steals safe

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh police are investigating a burglary that cost a man his life savings.

Police are searching for a duo the victim, Frank Barnett, says took a safe from his southeast Raleigh home filled with tens of thousands of dollars.

"I've come to terms with the fact that it might just be gone," Barnett said.

Barnett said his back door neighbor noticed two suspicious young men in the woods between their houses on Wednesday around the time of the break-in.

They used something to break a back window.

"Maybe like a screwdriver to punch it out so they could reach in and undo the locks and let themselves in," he demonstrated at the now taped-up window.

Barnett says he apparently forgot to set the alarm when he left home.

The thieves ripped the control panel for the security system off the wall and headed upstairs where he kept the safe.

"They took the entire safe. On top of the safe was all my girlfriend's jewelry she's accrued over the years," he said.

One of the many reasons he let down his guard is that the safe was so heavy even he couldn't lift it; apparently the burglars barely could.

"I'm assuming because of the weight of it they dropped it," he said. "And then it kind of continued to tumble down the stairs and crashed onto our mail pile and kind of dinged up the walls as it made its way down here. And then, of course, you can tell they kind of drug it across the floor."

Barnett said his penchant for saving cash at home started when he was a kid.

"It was easy for me when I was younger to save money if I would like to see it. So it started out as a game. I used to save my one-dollar bills and stack them up and try to get as many as I could. And it kind of carried over from there."

Barnett is apparently not alone, according to a 2015 survey taken by Business Wire for American Express showed 43 percent of Americans keep their savings in cash.

But Barnett says he will no longer be one of them.

"I will put my money in the bank and I think that's the lesson I've learned the most."

In the meantime, he says he will start over rebuilding his savings for a down payment on that home he and his girlfriend were hoping they would someday buy.
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