A trio of burglaries this weekend that continued Monday evening might be connected to a larger string of thefts, and could have links to a car chase on county roads early Tuesday morning.
Similar burglary cases have been popping up in Saline County, sheriff Rob Craft said.
“We’re working hard with one of the adjoining counties having similar issues,” he said. “We believe they’re all connected, and I have a detective over at Goessel who has been there all morning reviewing some evidence. I have some leads from there, so we’re making some headway.”
The Marion County businesses that were broken into included Goessel Grocery and Deli, formerly Keith’s Foods, as well as Agri Trails Cooperative in Durham, and Cooperative Grain and Supply in Lehigh.
The break-ins have business owners and employees confused because the items stolen were of little value.
“We didn’t really notice anything missing,” Goessel Grocery owner James Janzen said, whose business was broken into over the weekend. “There were a few personal things from the office missing, but it didn’t look like they really took anything else.”
One employee from Agri Trails said his office was broken into late Sunday or early Monday, and the items stolen included gloves, a magnifying glass, and a bin for aluminum cans.
“This is a co-op,” he said. “What are you going to turn into cash out of a co-op — mouse bait or bird seed?”
Cooperative Grain and Supply in Lehigh was broken into late Monday night, but the facility was not being used at the time. The location is open only seasonally.
Despite the limited financial impact, Craft said it was important not to downplay the burglaries.
“They’re all crimes, and I don’t want to diminish one any more than the other,” he said. “Value has no bearing on the crime itself, unless you meet the threshold of felony theft.”
One factor Janzen thought might have played a role in Goessel was that his store was closed Saturday and Sunday because he was taking over as owner on Monday.
Dealing with a break-in only made Janzen’s first day as owner more hectic.
“It was a stressful day Monday, I won’t lie,” he said. “It was my first official day, and then to deal with that on top of everything else.”
Connections to a Tuesday car chase are possible, but Craft said it was too soon to say for sure.
“I don’t want to falsely accuse somebody or put them in a place to be accused,” he said. “If the point comes to it, we will address that as well.”
The Tuesday motorist appeared to evade sheriff’s deputies by escaping down muddy roads. However, deputies later found two people suspected of being those in the vehicle.
“We subsequently found who we believe was the operator of the vehicle, no longer with the vehicle, but we know where the vehicle was,” Craft said. “Appropriate actions will be taken.”
No arrest was made, but information was taken. A long-form case is being filed.
The vehicle could only be identified as a black single-cab pickup truck during the chase, but deputies said it would be covered with mud when found, according to police scanner transmissions.
The chase started around 1:10 a.m. Tuesday near Old Mill Rd. with the motorist headed east on 150th Rd.
Several of the roads taken were muddy, which prevented deputies from catching the vehicle.
“You have to consider the road conditions and surfaces, and what you’re trying to stop them for because you’re risking somebody’s safety,” he said. “Not only yours and theirs, but other public out on the road.”
There was minimal traffic to consider, but finding a trailer in the middle of 130th Rd. was an unforeseen circumstance.
The motorist zigzagged through southeast Marion County and made it to Kanza and 110th Rds. before deputies lost sight of the vehicle.