Metro-East News

3 boys arrested in connection with Swansea vehicle burglaries

Three boys were arrested early Tuesday after a vehicle break-in in the 1600 block of Schobert Drive.

Swansea police, with assistance from the Belleville police K-9 unit, were able to arrest the three boys after after police were called at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. Police did not release names or ages of the boys, but said they are juveniles.

According to a Swansea Police Department news release, officer Justin Schutzbach responded to the scene within three minutes of a call to emergency dispatchers. Schutzbach saw two of the boys running between yards and positioned his car so that he could see and hear them as they ran between houses. As he left his car, Schutzbach saw three boys running from the area. He ordered them to stop, but they refused.

The boys ran toward a wooded area, and Schutzbach flanked the woods and caught one of the boys as he came out. That boy was placed into custody.

Other Swansea officers and the K-9 unit canvassed the area for the other two boys, but could not find them. The one who was caught told police his friends woke him up to go smoke some marijuana, and they went walking around midnight.

The boy said the group was checking cars for unlocked doors and admitted to burglarizing four vehicles. He told police they had also walked near the Duncan Street apartments. Officers found one vehicle burglarized in that area. Officer Andrew Hewitt canvassed that area and a witness told him he saw two boys run into a residence in the 1400 block of North Illinois. The boy who was caught was released to the custody of his mother.

Schutzbach went to the original scene and saw the victim’s vehicle doors were unlocked with the center console open, the glove box open and items thrown around the vehicle. The victim was missing a spare checkbook and about $10 worth of change.

A second boy was found at a residence in the 1400 block of North Illinois and was interviewed at Swansea Police Department headquarters. He admitted to participating in the burglaries. Several items were recovered from the boy, including several charging cords, two cellphone chargers, a set of ear buds and $1.05 in pennies.

Swansea detectives arrested the thrid boy at an area high school. Police said the boy refused to cooperate and asked to be taken to the St. Clair County Juvenile Detention Center. He was lodged there because of an arrest warrant.

The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office charged each of the boys with vehicle burglary.

“Several factors contributed to the success of this investigation,” Swansea Police Chief Steve Johnson said in a release. “First, was the neighbor who saw a vehicle burglarized and immediately called Swansea 911 Dispatch at 1:30 a.m. Second, was the quick response by Officer Schutzbach and capturing the juvenile as he ran. Third, was assistance from the Belleville Police Department. Fourth and final, was great police work by Swansea detectives. This is also a reminder to keep your doors locked. They were walking around and simply checking for unlocked doors.”