ZEBULON, N.C. — A 15-year veteran of the Zebulon Police Department said he never has seen anything like his most recent case.
According to investigators, two burglars staked out a business owner to learn his routine. Then, they robbed him.
But, despite their planning, the robbers did not get all they were after.
Kanu Patel owns a convenience store in the middle of downtown Zebulon. It is a busy place that uses surveillance cameras for security.
Police believe two burglars were doing some surveillance of their own.
"Maybe they thought he had a lot of cash," Detective Rodney Boykin said.
Boykin thinks the burglars staked out the store and may have followed Patel home one night.
Sunday night, shortly after the store closed, two masked men kicked in the door at Patel's home. With guns, they threatened Patel, his wife and their 4-year-old son.
"They came in and asked me about the store money," Patel said, "and I don't have store money right here."
Patel does not keep money from his business in the house. Still, the burglars ransacked each room, found jewelry and about $1,000.
They then forced the Patels into a bathroom.
Before the two men left, they grabbed two cell phones and a cordless phone, so the family could not call police. The phones eventually were found by officers down the road.
Officials said that type of home invasion has not happened in Zebulon in more than a decade. Police are warning other store owners to be alert at work and at home.
"You feel secure in your house," Boykin said. "When someone violates that, you lose trust in people."
Patel trusts that whoever threatened his family will be caught.
Police have very little description to go on because the robbers were wearing masks.
Patel is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.