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Burglary/fire investigation continues in Tuesday’s South Mayfield Road incident

Sumner County Sheriff Office and State Fire Marshall continue investigation into burglary today.

by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Sumner County Sheriff Darren Chambers said the office has several leads but has yet to pinpoint a suspect or suspects in the aggravated burglary and intentional fires set at a family home on the 400 block of South Mayfield Road yesterday afternoon.

At 1:15 p.m. a suspect, described as a white male, 35 to 40 years of age, 6’1” to 6’2”, 230 to 250 pounds with short sandy brown hair, short facial hair, tan pants, black boots and tattoos on the left arm was discovered by the victim in his home brandishing a small caliber hand gun.

According to Chambers, the victim had come home for a quick bite to eat and let his dog out of the house. He had parked his pickup truck and had left the keys inside before going into the house. He was greeted by the suspect who was in the house burglarizing it. The suspect, according to Chambers, pointed a gun at the victim, who then immediately escaped and ran toward a group of trees to the southwest. He then ran straight south to his neighbors which was almost a half-mile away.

Chambers said the suspect then set a fire in the house, which he speculates was an attempt to hide evidence. He then left the house, and saw the home owner’s pickup, jumped in, drove off the lot, turned north, and then turned immediately left into the next adjacent private road. He then parked the pickup by a north storage shed and started it on fire. Chambers estimated the distance between the house and the shed was about 200 yards.

Chambers speculates the suspect got into his own vehicle and headed north after starting the fire. Chambers said the victim saw dirt coming from the roadway heading north and smoke from the house as he was running south.

The Mayfield Fire Department arrived shortly thereafter to put both fires out with Wellington Fire Department assisting. The pickup was completely destroyed and the house is severely damaged. The Kansas State Fire Marshall has been called in to investigate. No fire report has been presented to Sumner Newscow at this time.

Chambers said he did not know if any possessions were taken and that is currently being investigated.

The victim said he could not comment on the specifics of the case because it is currently under investigation.

Chambers said he did not know if there was another suspect involved in the case.

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Authorities were busy today investigating the burglary and intentional fires set. Still no suspects have been apprehended.

While the time of day the burglary may seem unusual to some, Chambers said daytime burglaries are becoming more frequent.

“People envision cat burglaries in the dead of night,” Chambers said. “But those who break into homes have discovered that they are less likely getting caught during the day because people are less likely to be home.”

He said in most cases burglaries are more happenstance. The burglar may come up to a residence and notice someone isn’t at home. He knocks and sometimes it is unlocked, he’ll invite himself in and start his raid.

If someone happens to be there, the potential burglar will make up a quick excuse like he is lost and needs directions. But sometimes, that same person will put the house on his radar for future visits when the homeowner isn’t there. He may learn the habits of the homeowner and know when they are out and then gauge other things like their surrounding, the distance from an adjacent home, a neighbor’s visibility, etc.

In the South Mayfield case, Chambers did not know if the burglar had arrived at the home by accident or if this was planned. But Chambers said, he thinks the burglar was as surprised to see the victim as he was to see him.

Talking hypothetically, Chambers said, starting the fires at the South Mayfield Road residence may have been a form of panic. He knew he could identify him and he needed to dispose of the evidence as quickly as possible. So he started a fire in the house.

Then there is the pickup. Chambers said the victim’s instincts, as is the case with any of us, is to flee and hide. Getting into a pickup takes too much time, especially with a guy is pointing a gun at you.

Chambers speculated that once the fire started in the house, the suspect fled, saw the pickup in the driveway, and decided to drive it to the place for which his car was potentially hiding behind the shed.

Would it had been easier for the burglar to simply run 200 yards northwards straight to the car instead of getting into the pickup and driving to the car and then starting it on fire?

“Who know the mind of a criminal,” Chambers said with a shrug.

Chambers said at the time, the wife was gone on a family activity, and the person was at work and the suspect could have been there for a significant amount of time.

A manhunt was underway throughout Sumner County that afternoon. But by the time the victim had made his way to the neighbor’s house to alert authorities, the suspect was already gone.

Asked if this was similar to other burglary incidents that occurred in the area in November, Chambers would not speculate.

If you have any information call Crimestoppers at 620-326-3135 or 1-800-222-TIPS.

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