Home invasion victim: 'We're just plain country folk'

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX – Police are searching for two suspects who broke into a home and tied up and robbed an elderly couple early Thursday morning.

According to Phoenix police, the suspects broke in through the side door of a home in the neighborhood of the 36th Street and Greenway Road. They had to cut through a metal security door to do it.

It happened at about 2 a.m. The victims, William and Joan Hickling, said they woke up to the suspects telling them not to move and not to say a word. They were then zip-tied. The suspects then proceeded to go through the house, taking whatever they could find.

The 911 call about the home invasion came about two hours later. By the time officers arrived on the scene, the suspects were long gone.

The couple was not injured, but they were understandably shaken.

"My husband has worked hard all his life," Joan said, fighting off tears. "We're just plain county folk."

Joan went on to describe how the suspects tied her up, saying it was quite painful and very scary.

"To be looking at a gun like that, I was awful scared," she said.

William said he tried to keep his wife calm and not aggravate the suspects. He said the men, whose voices he did not recognize, did not hurt him or his wife.

"All I can say is they were Hispanic," he said. "Actually, they were kind of polite in their manners."

William said he made the ties binding his wrists feel tighter than they actually were. That's how he got free after the suspects left.

"I waited until I didn't hear anything," he explained.

"It's a bad situation," said Sgt. Trent Crump of the Phoenix Police Department.

The Hicklings, who have lived in the house for nine years and have never had any trouble, told police the suspects stole cash and a coin collection. The combined value was about $10,000. The suspects also took some weapons, some jewelry, televisions, a computer and Joan's car, a 1998 tan Buick Century. The suspects were seen leaving the home in that car, which is similar to the one in the above picture and has an Arizona handicapped license plate with the number FRB-587.

"We are looking for that vehicle," Crump said. "The car will be key to us. When we can find this car, we'll process this car for evidence. We all leave behind traces of ourselves. ... We'll be looking for the car and hoping that that leads us to clues."

According to the Hicklings, both of whom reportedly have health issues, the suspects were not only armed, but they were also wearing ski masks. Because of that, investigators do not have a good description of the suspects. All officers know is that the suspects were wearing blue jeans and black hoodies.

The couple also said the suspects had heavy Spanish accents, leading investigators to believe that the men are Hispanic.

It's not clear if this was a random incident or if the home was specifically targeted.

"When you have this type of activity, you have to look at what has caused them to be the target here," Crump said. "That's part of what we will look at."

Crump said officers will determine who had access to the home and knowledge of what the Hicklings had in terms of valuables.

William said it is possible that the suspects knew what they were looking for in the house, but he refused to speculate.

"I don't know for sure," he said when asked if that could have been the case.

Crump said officers have gone through the house looking for evidence, and will be talking to friends and neighbors to try and piece together what happened and who was behind it.

If you have any information about what happened Thursday morning, you are urged to call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151.