Crime & Courts

Neighbor helps cops nab burglary suspects

Two men suspected of committing more than a half-dozen burglaries in the College Hill neighborhood in April were arrested Thursday afternoon after an alert neighbor contacted authorities.

The resident spotted someone leaving a house in the 300 block of North Old Manor at about 2:20 p.m. She tried to contact the homeowner at work for about a half-hour, then called 911 with the tag number and a description of the vehicle used by the suspects.

That information was broadcast to officers on duty, and the gold Saturn was spotted about an hour later parked at a house in the 400 block of South Laura, Lt. Barry Von Fange said.

Officers entered the house and arrested a 28-year-old man. While there, Von Fange said, they also found a significant amount of stolen property.

Authorities learned the location of the second suspect, who tried to hide by crawling under a bed in a room at the Paradise Hotel, 2020 S. Broadway.

He didn't get away with it, though, and the 48-year-old man was arrested and jailed. More stolen property was found in the hotel room.

"We do love it when citizens call," Von Fange said.

He'd said he'd like to "tweak" the way that incident was handled, though.

"Go ahead and call us first," he said. "That gives a 30-minute head start" on trying to catch the criminals.

Home burglaries in Wichita jumped about 10 percent in 2009 over the year before, and police officials have made reducing home burglaries a priority.

"It's just an amazing difference when people help us and call in stuff," Von Fange said.

The two men are suspected of burglarizing as many as eight homes — seven in College Hill between April 6 and 16, and then the house on Thursday, Von Fange said.

Some stolen property has already been returned to its owners. Investigators will be going through the recovered property and trying to confirm ownership in the coming days, he said.