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Homeowners Help Catch Burglary Suspects

December 26, 2011, 5:59 PM by Brady Mallory

Homeowners Help Catch Burglary Suspects
SHINDLER, SD - Three suspects accused of breaking into a house near Shindler are in custody.  The homeowners came home to find people leaving their house with a shotgun and rifle that belonged to them.

They say two of the suspects ran back inside and then went out the back of the house. But that's when they noticed a suspicious car with the third suspect parked in the front.

Some quick thinking, an observant neighbor and a bit of detective work helped authorities get a jump on this case and arrest 20-year-old Trelee Hamer, 24-year-old Brandon Mahone and 65-year-old Elmos Hopkins.

"I could kind of see the blinds flopping out the back door, like the door was open," neighbor Dale Hotchkin said.

What happened next Hotchkin know his neighbor didn't just forget to shut his door.

"I started walking this way and could hear all the sirens coming this way and they pulled up and surrounded the house. I was on the phone with the owner of the house and he says he was chasing one guy through town," Hotchkin said.

"Basically the homeowner came home and caught them in the act and got on the phone right away; kept a visual on the people he could. It was a humongous break," Lincoln County Deputy Sheriff Terry Anderson said.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol arrested the driver of the car on the south side of Sioux Falls on Minnesota Avenue. Two suspects who ran out of the back of the house didn't go unnoticed. One was spotted on 57th Street. Before he got home, Hotchkin saw one walking along the highway and says it was easy to see he didn't belong in this quiet neighborhood.

"He had his hood over his head and as I drove up he kind of hid his face and I thought, well, that's weird. Usually anybody out here walking, they wave because we all know each other," Hotchkin said.

Police arrested one of the suspects who was on foot about two miles away from the home. Authorities found two of the stolen guns near a backyard garden a couple blocks from the scene.

Anderson says the homeowner's quick thinking could put an end to a string of daytime burglaries in the area.

"I have reason to believe these are the same suspects that have burglarized several other residences in rural Lincoln County in the last week and a half," Anderson said.

Residents hope all the excitement in the neighborhood will settle down so they can get back to enjoying a peaceful day after Christmas.

"It was just different," Hotchkin said.

All three men are charged with second degree burglary.

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