As wrecking crews begin demolishing a Miami Beach mansion once owned by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, police and the home's current owners are investigating a mysterious and very recent theft from the property.
A safe was discovered missing last week.
The pink waterfront mansion, located in the 5800 block of North Bay Road, was owned by Escobar in the early 1980s before it was seized by the U.S. government 1987, then purchased by a private owner in 1990.
The current owners, Chicken Kitchen owner Christian de Berdouare and his wife, former NBC 6 anchor Jennifer Valoppi, purchased the home in 2014. The home has been vacant in preparation for demolition, according to a report from Miami Beach Police.
Before demolition was slated to begin, de Berdouare and Valoppi hired professional treasure hunters to comb through the structure first for traces from Escobar's days. The endeavor was being filmed for a documentary on the mansion's history. The couple planned to build a new home on the property.
According to police, a burglary took place sometime in October 2015. The homeowners were aware that a grill and a generator had been stolen from the garage, but opted not to file a police report at the time.
Then, on Tuesday, Jan. 12 — just one week before demolition was set to begin — a handyman discovered that thieves had also stolen a 10-inch round metal safe previously hidden under a staircase in the home.
According to a police report, the handyman first noticed the safe when the couple purchased the home in 2014. He described it as flush and surrounded by marble. Police said de Berdouare and Valoppi were evidently unaware of the safe because it was underground.
The handyman also noticed several broken tiles and large hole in the area where the safe was once located. It's not clear what the safe contained.
The homeowners filed a police report Sunday documenting the thefts. Police are investigating.
Meanwhile, demolition began at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.
U.S. & World
U.S. authorities said it's unclear whether Escobar ever spent any time in Miami Beach, though his men likely used the property as a hideout.
Escobar's drug cartel was responsible for much of the cocaine imported into the United States in the 1980s and 1990s.