Residents report valuables missing after high-rise fire

Half-dozen residents file police reports after they say belongings were stolen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As hundreds of people return to a Jacksonville high-rise senior living facility after being forced out by a fire before Christmas, some said they discovered they had been robbed while they were away.

News4Jax has learned at least a half-dozen residents of the Jacksonville Townhouse Apartments filed police reports after thousands of dollars' worth of their belongings were stolen. 

Residents have started to move back into the high-rise on Philips Highway near Emerson Street. But Bobbi Griffin said when she returned to her apartment, there were boxes all over the floor and valuables missing.

"I don't want to cry," Griffin said. "It hurts. It really does. It hurts. And everybody just walks around like it's nothing to it, like it's OK. And it's not."

Griffin was happy to return to her apartment, but that joy turned to disbelief when she opened her apartment door.

"I think they were plundering through my stuff," she said.

Griffin said some of her valuables are irreplaceable.

"My mom's ring. When she passed away, she told me, 'You can have this ring.' She gave me and my sisters rings," Griffin said. "And my husband‘s wedding band, my husband’s gold bracelet, two of his leather jackets."

Griffin's daughter, Toyna Hall, said she is both shocked and disappointed. 

"Those things my dad bought her through anniversaries -- her ruby and diamond rings," Hall said. 

Toyna Hall and her mother Bobbi Griffin

Hall said she wants to break the lease and move her mother out of the apartment.

"Other people in that tower have been robbed as well," Hall said. "You are robbing from the elderly and it’s wrong."

Another woman called the News4Jax newsroom, saying her aunt’s clothing and jewelry had also been stolen. She also filed a police report. 

The landlord gave tenants a letter informing them when they were able to return, and also letting them know a cleaning crew had been inside their apartments.

Griffin said she just hopes she will get her sentimental jewelry back. 

Jacksonville police continue to investigate. 

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Lifetime Floridian anchors weekends and reports weekdays on issues in Nassau and Baker counties and beyond.