ST. PETERSBURG — Ryan Cyr knew something was wrong as soon as he walked in the door.
The TV was gone, the window was open.
He picked up the pace, moved to the kitchen, saw the back door ajar. When he turned the corner to check on his bedroom, his heart dropped.
"Nothing. There was nothing left," said Cyr, 32. "I started shaking. I was scared and angry. Then there was this feeling — an emptiness."
While Cyr worked Monday, burglars broke into his house, 521 Delmar Ter. S, and made off with his flat-screen TV, video game console, CD collection, computer, knives and his parents' wedding bands.
All that remained were his mattress, clothes and a bookshelf, he said.
The next day, his despair turned into something darker.
He went to the garage, found a piece of plywood and spray-painted a message: "$1,000 reward for info who the S.O.B. is who robbed my house."
He hadn't gotten any responses by Friday. But he's serious about the reward.
"I will give a thousand dollars to anyone who can prove who stole my stuff," said Cyr, who works as a restaurant manager. "People know something, and money talks."
But it's possible no one saw much of anything, said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz.
Most burglaries happen in a matter of minutes.
"Burglars realize they have a limited amount of time before someone notices," Puetz said. "They want to get in and get out quickly."
The burglars who broke into Cyr's house followed a pattern police are familiar with: They broke in through a side window, opened the back door and grabbed what looked valuable.
But they also took a moment to ensure a comfortable work environment, flipping on the air conditioner as they collected Cyr's belongings.
Experienced criminals will usually bring a vehicle to transport the stolen goods, Puetz said.
Although no place is immune from crime, Puetz said, the key to deterrence is making things as difficult as possible for the burglar. That means putting locks on windows, keeping valuables out of sight, and installing an alarm system that could draw more attention to the house.
Keeping track of serial numbers on electronics and securing small items in hard-to-find places also helps, he said.
"You want to force them to go through as many extraordinary measures as you can," Puetz said. "First, make it hard to get in. Then, make it hard to find things. An alarm system is helpful, but it's not a guarantee."
Since the burglary, Cyr has boarded up his windows and secured the doors. But, he said, it's too little, too late.
"Being in that house now, knowing that someone's been in your home, gone through your stuff," Cyr said, "it doesn't feel like home anymore."
The spray-painted plea on his front lawn is one way to fight back, he said.
"I was mad when I did that, and I'm still mad," he said. "But maybe, after all of this, I can get some justice."
Times researcher Natalie A. Watson contributed to this report. Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3386.