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String of Marion burglaries may be related

Break-in attempted at officer’s house

Staff writer

Marion police are investigating two thefts and one attempted burglary that occurred last week. Police said the three offenses might be linked.

Jim Darrow discovered someone had cut a back porch screen to gain entry to 544 S. Freeborn St. from an adjacent alley sometime between 3 and 5 a.m. Dec. 7.

Once inside, they shut off a water valve before cutting and ripping out a 12-foot section of 3/4-inch copper pipe from above a drop ceiling in the basement.  

A second copper pipe also was partially cut, but left to spray water.

“I came downstairs, saw the damage, and it was just like ‘what the heck’,” Darrow said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

He estimated the damage to be between $4,000 and $5,000. He and his brother, Bill Darrow, repaired the damage last week.

Several hand tools, an antique clock, golf clubs, a golf bag, a Christmas gift, and a box containing family pictures and his grandmother’s Bible were missing.

Darrow estimated a combined value of about $1,200, not including sentimental value.

An insurance adjuster told Darrow “this sort of thing happens a lot this time of year.”

While police chief Tyler Mermis was inspecting the alley behind 544 S. Freeborn St. for tire tracks, he discovered a door ajar on a detached garage behind Gene and Doris Winkler’s home next door at 560 S. Freeborn St.

“I noticed pry bar marks on the door,” Mermis said. “So I called Gene and asked him to fill out a report.”

Two nail guns, two saws, an electric drill, and a powder coat gun were taken, Winkler said. He estimated about $800 in damage and missing items.

“There was also another saw that they had taken out of the cabinet, but they left it on the floor by the door,” Winkler said. “I think maybe they got spooked because there was so much they could’ve taken.”

Mermis said the same perpetrator or perpetrators probably performed both burglaries, because of the proximity in time and location.

A third attempted burglary, which occurred Dec. 9 a half a block away on S. Roosevelt St. at the home of officer Mike Stone, may also have been related.

Stone reported the incident after noticing a window screen missing on his garage.

“They cut straight even lines down the sides and across the bottom of the window screen, then they ripped it off at the top,” Stone said. “It was blatant. There were even tool marks where you could see they used a screwdriver to try and pry the window open.”

The attempted burglary might not have been very well thought out. It may have been premeditated, Stone said

He noticed a light bulb on his back porch that had been unscrewed just enough to fail to turn on when the switch was engaged. Perpetrators might have done this to conceal themselves.

“The window they cut can be seen at all four points of the intersection,” he said. “I don’t know why anyone would go in through it. The funny thing was the side door to the garage was unlocked.”

Had burglars gained entry, it might have gone badly for them. Stone’s former drug dog Kahti, a 90-pound German Shepherd, was inside.

“She’s a big grumpy girl,” he said. “She may have heard them trying to get in.”

Police urge residents to contact them if they notice any strangers, vehicles, or suspicious activity in their neighborhood.

Last modified Dec. 17, 2014

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