Army veteran in Forks Township confronts teen allegedly breaking into vehicle

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A U.S. Army veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on Thursday said the military “prepared me pretty well” for dealing with a teenager who allegedly broke into a vehicle about 4 a.m. on the man’s property in Forks Township.

The man said he was alerted by his security system to motion in his driveway. He spoke to on the condition that his name and address not be used after he detained one teenager but two other males got away.

He said he was aware that there had been vehicle break-ins recently in his neighborhood, although this was the first time his property was hit.

He saw someone in the driveway, and without even putting on his shoes he headed outside.

“I was trying to sneak up on them,” he said. “I had two of them. We had a scuffle.”

In video of the incident captured by the system, and shared by the owner with, the man approaches the vehicle and challenges a teen inside in a very loud voice.

“I was trying to be very assertive,” he said. He got the teen out of the car and held him, but the others threw rocks at him, one nearing striking him in the head and one of them breaking a windshield, he said.

“They tried to put up a fight,” he said.

A neighbor must have heard the ruckus and called police, he said. Two of the alleged burglars, one dressed in black and the other wearing red shorts, can be seen on the video running out of the driveway.

As township police were sent to the home, a surprised-sounding dispatcher said the resident had one person in custody and that the resident had a law enforcement background.

Not wanting to provide personal details, the man said it was just military training.

“I went in with more of a game plan than they did,” he said of the alleged burglars.

“These guys have been breaking into everybody’s” vehicles, he said.

Now that police say the teen is heading into the juvenile justice system, the man said he hopes his neighbors won’t “have to through this anymore.”

Forks Township police Cpl. Joe Effting said there were “numerous” thefts from vehicles overnight Wednesday into Thursday. They’ve been coming in waves, with weeks going by with nothing, and then a heavy night, he said. Other juveniles have been sent into the system this summer after break-ins, he said.

Effting confirmed one juvenile was detained on Thursday, but wouldn’t go into details.

Police are still looking for two other juveniles from the most recent break-ins, he said. Police “have an idea” who they might be, he said.

Effting said security systems with high-quality video are essential tools in some investigations.

If anyone has video of such crimes in the township, they should provide it to police, he said.

And, it should go without notice but always needs to be said, Effting admitted, residents need to lock their car and home doors and not leave valuables in plain view.

“They have to be really conscientious,” he said, calling the break-ins “very frustrating” and sad.

Tony Rhodin may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TonyRhodin. Find on Facebook.

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