Local News

Suspected open-house thief has ties to Duke, Yale

Posted March 7, 2012 5:04 p.m. EST
Updated March 7, 2012 7:21 p.m. EST

Peter Schieffelin Nyberg

— A Durham man charged with stealing jewelry from five homes in Cary and Apex during open houses hosted by real estate agents has seen his once idyllic life spiral out of control in recent years, according to former colleagues and court records.

Peter Schieffelin Nyberg, 47, of Montrose Drive, was arrested last week by Cary police on two counts of felony larceny and was also charged with three counts of felony larceny by Apex police. He remains in the Wake County jail.

More than $25,000 worth of jewelry and silverware was stolen from homes in Apex's Scotts Mill and Walden Creek subdivisions and around High House Road and Davis Drive in Cary between Feb. 11 and Feb. 26, police said.

According to friends and former colleagues, Nyberg seemed to have it all. He has a bachelor's degree and MBA from Yale University, is the father of two adopted girls and owned property on Bald Head Island.

He built a career in the health care field, and a South Carolina company that placed him on its board of directors in 2004 said he spent seven years as a vice president at Duke University Health System.

Duke Health couldn't confirm that Nyberg used to work there.

In 2002, Nyberg founded 21 CD Inc., a marketing company that produced multimedia presentations on uniquely shaped CDs. Colleagues said the business fizzled a few years later, and Nyberg's life started to unravel.

He was divorced in 2007. The following year, he declared bankruptcy. He was sentenced last November to 15 months on probation after being convicted of failing to pay or file a return for state income taxes.

Recent reports of a well-dressed jewelry thief targeting homes during real estate open houses prompted Nyberg's former girlfriend, a Durham physician, to tip police off that he might be responsible.

The woman told investigators that Nyberg was suspected of stealing jewelry from her and a neighbor and that the description of the thief and his car matched Nyberg, according to a search warrant.

On Sunday, Nyberg's mother told Durham police that she knew of a cache of jewelry at her son's office that might be linked to the open-house thefts, the search warrant states.

One of the real estate agents who welcomed the suspected thief to an open house said Wednesday that the man appeared professional and polished.

"This has really hit home that you can not trust anyone," she said.