SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Jazz star Andrei Kirilenko's Salt Lake home was burglarized over the weekend, something that surprised his wife who calls the city the "safest place on Earth."
Kirilenko, who played for the Jazz for 10 years and lived in Salt Lake City with his wife, Masha Lopatova, now plays for the Brooklyn Nets. They both now spend the majority of their time in New York, though they still frequently return to Utah to visit and maintain a home here. They want to return to Salt Lake City full time when Kirilenko retires.
Lopatova, who is the owner of Fashion IQ and currently in New York City for Fashion Week, told the Deseret News that a friend was driving by their home in the Federal Heights neighborhood this past weekend and noticed the garage doors were open. The friend went inside to look at the house and it appeared that someone had been inside, she said.
But while her friend was very emotional when she called Lopatova to tell her that her house had been burglarized, Loptova said she took the news in stride.
"I can't say it is a pleasant feeling. It definitely is a little bit uncomfortable," she said.
But Lopatova said neither she nor her husband keep anything extremely valuable in that house anymore. She said a TV, a Playstation and some clothing items were taken. She believes the burglars were likely "young and amateur" because a collection of Marvel action heroes was also taken, but more valuable artwork was left behind.
"It was time for a cleanup anyway. They kind of helped us," she quipped. "It's definitely not a very pleasant thing when someone does this without permission. They should have asked. We would have given it to them."
Neither Lopatova nor Kirilenko have been back to their Salt Lake house since the incident. Because of that, Lopatova said Thursday she doesn't yet know exactly what was taken. She is anxious to get back and take inventory, however. Her biggest fear is that personal items that can't be replaced, such as DVDs and photos, were taken.
Salt Lake police said Thursday they had not yet interviewed the Kirilenkos about the break-in. A spokeswoman for the Kirilenkos said police had also collected fingerprints from the crime scene.
Kirilenko does not put his own memorabilia on display at his house, such as a framed jersey, Lopatova said.
"We don't keep memorabilia that reminds us of ourselves. It's weird looking at your own jersey all day long," she laughed.
However, Lopatova believes that the burglars may have known whose house they were breaking into. Contractors have recently been through the home doing renovations, she said. Lopatova said people like to talk to their friends about that kind of thing and word may have spread that the home was vacant.
Lopatova noted that the burglary is a bit ironic because "Utah has a reputation of being the safest place on Earth, and you never think something like this can happen in Utah. We never locked the doors in 10 years (when we lived there) and nothing ever has been stolen. The time we locked the doors and we weren't home, someone breaks in."
Lopatova's message to others is even in Utah, people need to lock their doors and take precautions to avoid being robbed.
"It can happen everywhere, even in safest place on Earth," she said. "Truly (Utah) is the safest place on Earth."