Alert witnesses contacted police after seeing car burglaries, helping police catch five suspects.
Lawrence police arrested five people suspected of car burglaries overnight Monday in two separate incidents, one in which police were assisted by a man who gave chase when he stopped them in the act.
A 19-year-old Topeka man whose car was parked in the 1800 block of Crossgate noticed three men near the vehicle at 11:18 p.m. Monday. Sgt. George Wheeler said the witness caught the three suspects by surprise. They left the witness' 1988 Ford Bronco, jumped into another vehicle and took off with the witness pursuing. During the brief chase, which ended in the 2100 block of West 26th, the Topeka man was able to flag down a police officer.
The suspects tried to elude the officer, but the car was stopped soon after, Wheeler said.
The men in the car were:
- Rex Edgar Pinegar, 28, Lawrence, who was charged with auto burglary, felony theft and obstruction of the legal process. He remained in the Douglas County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bond.
- Tony Allen Cooley (also known as Chad Dillard), 29, listed as a transient on Douglas County Jail records, who was charged with auto burglary, theft and obstruction of the legal process. He was in jail on $10,000 bond, and was also held on a 1998 fish and game warrant.
- Christopher Palmer, 22, Lawrence, was charged with auto burglary, theft and obstruction of the legal process. He was also arrested on outstanding warrants for criminal deprivation of property and for failing to appear in court; his bond is $10,000 also. He remained in jail.
All three are scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 10.
A cellular phone, car stereo and compact disc player were recovered; the Bronco sustained $500 in damage when the men allegedly broke into it.
Two other men were also arrested in connection with a car burglary after a security guard at Jack Ellena Honda, 2957 Four Wheel Dr., called police.
Wheeler said the guard saw two men near vehicles in the 2500 block of Four Wheel Drive and called police at 12:10 a.m. Tuesday.
Police arrested Dustin Lee Merritt, 19, Lawrence, on two counts of aiding and abetting burglary, and Justin Dean Swisher, 18, on one count each of criminal damage to property, attempted burglary and burglary. They were both released Tuesday afternoon from the Douglas County Jail on their own recognizance. Their court date is Sept. 9.
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.