Residents help officers catch burglary suspects
By Randa Wagner -
Morrow County residents were instrumental in assisting deputies in the apprehension of two suspects caught in the act of a Sunday home burglary.
Morrow County Sheriff Steve Brenneman said homeowners on CR 97 in Perry Twp. near the Richland County line came home to find an unfamiliar and unoccupied vehicle with its engine running in their driveway. When they realized someone was in their house, they removed the keys from the running vehicle and started to leave the residence, intending to call 9–1-1. That’s when things got really interesting.
“The suspects came out of the house, approached the homeowners’ vehicle and attempted to stop them from leaving, pounding on the vehicle,” Brenneman reported. “The homeowners kept going, called 9–1-1 and the suspects fled on foot.”
Five on and off-duty Morrow County officers responded to the area, including the Canine unit, which was successfully tracking the suspects when Richland County transferred a 9–1-1 call saying the suspects were now on Bellville-Johnsville Road in Richland County, asking a resident there to give them a ride back to Mansfield.
About that time, passersby who were neighbors of the burglarized residence saw the suspects at the Bellville-Johnsville Road residence, deduced they were the suspects and, with the aid of the resident, apprehended one of the suspects while the other fled on foot.
The second suspect was found by Brenneman about a half mile away along the edge of a wooded area by a pasture. Brenneman, guided by residents waving and pointing in the direction the suspect ran, drove his SUV down the lane of an Amish farm, where the suspect gave himself up when the sheriff began a foot pursuit.
Brenneman said when he returned to the location of the first suspect, three or four men were holding him down. The suspect had assaulted one man repeatedly.
“I don’t advise people to take that kind of action,” Brenneman noted, citing it’s not usually a safe course to pursue. Quick thinking on the homeowner’s part to take the keys out of the car and leave was definitely a plus in this case.
“Would we recommend people do that? No,” advised Brenneman. “But leaving the residence and calling — rather than staying and confronting the suspects — is definitely wise.”
Assault charges are pending in Richland County and at least one man is supected in connection with an attempted break-in there. Dustin W. Urban, 26, and Jason M. Blackwell, 27, were each charged Monday with burglary, a felony of the second degree. No bond was set at that time.
“We’ll be looking at them for other [break-ins] in our county and Richland County,” Brenneman said.
The public’s assistance, willingness to get involved, and watching out for their neighbors was a big help to officers.
“People are upset, they’re angry and they’re tired of getting ripped off,” Brenneman said. Referring to law enforcement manpower in the county, he added, “I think they understand where we’re at.”