Burglary thwarted thanks to fast-acting neighbor

Posted at 6:44 PM, Jul 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-28 07:52:26-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - When Mary James walked out of the front porch of her home earlier this month, she noticed something wasn’t quite right.  She saw a man she didn’t recognize removing the air conditioning unit from her next door neighbor’s window.

“I could tell that my neighbor wasn’t at home at the time,” said James. She picked up the phone and call the police.

Minutes later, Richmond Police Officer Deane Waite arrived at the home along the 1500 block of Spotsylvania St.

Waite entered the home and found 51-year-old Johnnie Baker Jr. in the bathroom.

“We were able to apprehend the offender inside the residence with the property he was going to steal,” said Officer Waite.

According the Richmond Police, Baker was charged with breaking and entering, larceny, and possession of burglary tools.

The home owner, 79-year-old Arthur Jackson, returned home just as police found Baker inside his house.  Jackson said Baker has been his mechanic for several years, and even though he did not want to press charges, Jackson said something had to be done.

“It’s almost impossible for us to be there at that exact time, to drive by, see somebody going in a side window, or breaking into something,” said officer Waite.  “Without the citizen calling the police, we wouldn’t have caught him.  We may have caught him later, but luckily she  [Mrs. James] called police.”

James said the whole situation has made her consider investing in a sort of home improvement.

“I’m getting ready to get a security system,” she said.

“Just having neighbors being involved and looking out for each other almost is better than a security system,” said Officer Waite.

The Richmond Police Department urged everyone to call the police as soon as they notice something suspicious.

“I don’t care if you call 100 times, and 100 of those times are false alarms,” said Officer Waite.  “The 101 time could be the offender, could be something serious.”