A noise woke Chris Streif’s neighbor early Wednesday morning, but when he spotted nothing out of place in his house in rural Sumner County he went back to bed.
When he heard another loud noise a short time later, he grabbed his .45 handgun and went to investigate.
He found a burglar in the attached garage in the 1000 block of East 149th Avenue North, about a mile east of the Kansas Turnpike’s Mulvane exit. The intruder was trying to steal his Harley Davidson motorcycle.
“He got it wedged between the car and the wall” in the garage, Streif said. “He was trying to break the wall,” and that’s what woke up the homeowner.
He pointed the gun at the burglar, ordered him to freeze and told his wife to call 911.
But the burglar wiggled out of the tight space, charged the home owner and punched him hard on the jaw.
“His jaw is probably busted,” Streif said.
The homeowner responded by shooting the burglar in the upper left torso, Streif said. The burglar, whom Sumner County Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Yoder identified as a 31-year-old man from the Wichita area, was flown by Eagle Med helicopter to Wesley Medical Center, where he was reported to be in stable condition. He is expected to survive, Yoder said.
The shooting occurred at about 3:30 a.m., he said. All three adults who live at the house where the shooting took place were questioned in Wellington by Sumner County authorities and then released.
“You’ve got the right to protect your life and family,” Yoder said. “If at all possible, call 911 and let us take care of the situation.”
The rural development of gravel streets and large lots features older dwellings and modular homes, with horses and mules in pens.
Folks who live there keep an eye out for each other, Regina Engstrand said.
“For the most part, it is very quiet,” she said as she stood in the driveway of her home on 149th.
But Streif said his neighbor has had several belongings stolen from his property, including four-wheelers.
“What makes you think you can go into somebody’s garage when they’re sleeping and just take something?” Streif asked. “It just makes no sense.”
Northern Sumner County has seen a spike in burglaries in recent weeks, Yoder said.
The reason for the surge “could be any number of things,” he said.
It may have something to do with the time of year, when burglars hope to find cash or Christmas gifts inside homes, he said.
“I don’t think that it’s any one thing,” he said.
There’s nothing to indicate the increase in crime has anything to do with the opening of the Kansas Star Casino about a mile to the west of the development, Yoder said.
Streif said he’s not so sure.
“It’s a bad deal,” he said. “Is it because of the casino? Can I say it’s the economy? I don’t know.
“I do know that there’s a lot of thieves around here.”