Thieves steal thousands of dollars worth of furniture from staged home without suspicion

Mackenzie Smith decorated this home for sale in Belvoir using $5,000 worth of her own merchandise. (Courtesy: Mackenzie Smith)

One small family-owned business is out thousands of dollars after thieves manage to clear out a Belvoir home without raising suspicion.

As the owner of Elevate Home Staging, Mackenzie Smith stages homes for sale in Chattanooga and North Georgia.

“I kind of go in and design the home to where it looks like someone may live in it but it also inspires them to envision furniture in the home and they can see a lifestyle,” Smith says of her work.

On October 6, Smith staged a home on the market in the Belvoir neighborhood of Chattanooga.

She spent hours designing, packing, and setting up.

She filled the house with more than $5,000 worth of furniture and decorations.

According to Smith, the home was under contract within 24 hours of her finishing.

By all markers, the project was a success up until the final home inspection.

“The home inspector was doing the home inspection with the new buyer and they noticed that the stove is missing, the ceiling fan is missing. So they were like something is a little off,” Smith says.

The realtor who hired Smith gave her a call to come take a look.

The moment Smith walked in the front door she says she “immediately cried.”

The buyers didn’t know the home was supposed to be staged but Smith did.

“It was pretty devastating to walk into an empty house that was fully furnished before full of my things and so it's heartbreaking,” she says.

The moment she opened the front door and saw one single couch with a few throw pillows strewn on it, she says she knew exactly what happened.

“Between October 11 and yesterday, at some point, it had been broken into,” Smith says.

All of her decor was gone.

“They took tables, dining room chairs, they took the entire bedroom furniture, down to the last nail in the wall and all of that was mine that I owned,” she says.

Smith called police who she says found large tire tracks in the driveway.

“It wasn't just a let me just throw this in the back of a truck kind of job. It was a big scale kind of job,” she says.

Smith believes the people responsible had seen the inside of the home before and wonders whether or not they may have posed as potential buyers.

“It had to have been someone who had been in the home or looked through the windows to maybe see what was in the home and the pieces to kind of get a plan of what time they could move it out, what kind of truck or vehicle they needed to remove the items so it was definitely I think premeditated,” smith tells NewsChannel 9.

Smith filed a police report and is asking the public to keep an eye out for her stolen goods on resale websites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.

A Facebook post on Smith’s page with pictures of the staged home has been shared more than 500 times.

Smith says the theft has discouraged her but hasn’t deterred her from doing what she loves.

“I have this business and this is how I put food on the table for my family and my son and so it's devastating but we're just going to keep going forward,” she says.

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