The Trials of Theresa Roemer

Texas socialite copes with closet mania while thief who stole from her remains at large

Texas socialite copes with aftermath while closet thief remains free

Theresa Roemer closet July 2014
Theresa Roemer in happier days when her closet was full. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Courtesy of Neiman Marcus
Suspect on surveillance camera Theresa Roemer closet August 2014
A video surveillance camera catches the burglar in action. Photo courtesy of KHOU News/Channel 11
Theresa Roemer closet July 2014
The thief took many of the Birkin bags on the first floor of Roemer's closet. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Courtesy of Neiman Marcus
Theresa Roemer closet July 2014
Even Roemer was surprised at the attention her closet has received. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Courtesy of Neiman Marcus
Theresa Roemer closet July 2014
The thief took jewels too. Photo by © Chinh Phan/Courtesy of Neiman Marcus
Theresa Roemer closet July 2014
Suspect on surveillance camera Theresa Roemer closet August 2014
Theresa Roemer closet July 2014
Theresa Roemer closet July 2014
Theresa Roemer closet July 2014

On the day after Montgomery County authorities released a surveillance video of the recent break-in at Theresa Roemer's Houston home — where a thief escaped with close to $1 million in watches, jewelry and handbags — the 52-year-old socialite/entrepreneur sounds weary.

"I've always been told that in life, God never places more on your shoulders than you can carry," says Roemer, who's been dealing with the aftermath of the burglary and the international attention she's received because of her 3,000-square-foot, three-story closet. "That must be why I have really broad shoulders."

Roemer knows the chances are slim that the stolen items that really matter to her will be returned, including a locket containing a strand of hair from her 19-year-old son, who was killed in a car crash eight years ago, and other family mementos.

 Theresa Roemer knows the chances are slim the items that really matter to her will be returned, including a locket containing a strand of hair from her son, who was killed in a car crash.

"Everything in [the closet] has been accumulated in the last 30 years. It's not just random crap," she says about the "she cave" of luxury items that has generated so much hoopla. "What I really want back I'll never get back," she says.

She was hopeful that a surveillance video of a young man loitering in front of the house where she lives with her oilman husband, Lamar, might lead to an arrest; authorities have ruled out the young man as a suspect. So all they have to go on now is a grainy figure of a man dressed in a jumpsuit, hoodie and cap that masks his face, furiously throwing purses into a large bag to make his escape.

How it started
It was little more than a month ago that a story about Roemer's closet first appeared on the Neiman Marcus blog and in a subsequent CultureMap Houston article. Her larger-than-life personality and penchant for designer goods made her a media magnet, while attracting hundreds of derogatory and mean-spirited comments.

"It just hurts," she says. "It's sad the way the public has this picture of me that's not the way I am."

She insists that the closet has always been a fundraising tool — a way to entice eager attendees to give big bucks to charity by offering something special and different. Even the burglary is not stopping her: She plans to open the closet again on August 24 for a fundraiser benefiting a cancer charity.

"I never intended for anyone to see the closet unless they attended a social event," she says. But when her personal shopper at Neiman Marcus suggested an item about the closet on the store's blog, she agreed, not thinking that anyone outside of a few customers would see it.

Sexist coverage
Much of the coverage has been sexist — one might ask if the same kind of media attention has been focused on Jay Leno and his fleet of classic automobiles — and negative, portraying her as a "blond bimbo," she notes. "I was a self-made millionaire before I met my husband," she says.

But she hopes that the situation will change. She recently did a long interview with People magazine because the writer convinced her he wanted to show a positive side of her that the media has ignored. 

She also has a court date later this week, where she will face off against her stepson, 32-year-old Maximillian Roemer, whom she has sued for defamation of character. According to the Houston Press, she accused him of posting nasty comments on the Neiman Marcus blog.

Though it's been a trying time, things have been far worse, Roemer says. "I've buried my baby," she says. "It's going to take something bigger than this to stop me in my tracks.

"Am I really sad? You're damn right. But if you think you are going to stop Theresa Roemer, you have another thing coming."