World War II veteran's home burglarized while visting battlefields in Europe

STAYTON, Ore. - Vern Staley's cap and his memories from pictures on his wall all show how special he feels about his army service with the 70th Infantry Division during World War II.

Staley was in Europe last month, visiting some of the places where he'd fought, when his daughter called from home.

"'Dad, I got good news and bad news,'" Staley recalls, "And I said well, give me the good news. And she said 'your granddaughter's coming for the family reunion in July.' I said what's the bad news? And she said 'your house was burglarized.'"

The burglars took the safe that was in his closet.

Vern Staley's wife's jewelry, bonds, and an old German army handgun were all gone.

Staley managed to make his international flight back home. No money. No credit cards.

All Staley had to eat was a ham sandwich. He ate half flying to Iceland.

"I ate the other half of the sandwich between Iceland and Seattle," says Staley, "and I was starving to death."

Staley thinks the burglars somehow got a key to his place because the back door was left open.

A break-in was so far from his mind, he never photographed any of the things that were stolen.

"As far as the way you live, moneywise," Staley says, "it didn't make any difference. It's just you lost all the valuable keepsakes that you had collected."

Ansley Pennington faces id-theft and meth possession charges in the case. There may be more arrests after further investigation.

The burglars took something that can't be replaced -- Vern Staley and his neighbors' sense of security.

"And you hear a noise in the middle of the night," says Staley, "and you're like 'whoa! Is somebody trying to break into the house?' No, it's just - you're imaging things, but again, everybody in the neighborhood is jumpy over it."

Staley's realistic about the chances of getting anything that was stolen returned. He doesn't really expect to ever see any of it again.