Two Wellington juvenile suspects were apprehended for 5 burglaries over the past month (updated 2:35 p.m.)

by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The Wellington Police Department has apprehended and identified two Wellington juvenile suspects who are alleged to have been involved with five burglaries over a month’s time including the Wellington Recreation Commission Center, Cases Country Cafe in downtown Wellington and the Assembly of God Church at 202 S. Jefferson.

The names of the suspects, both 15 years old, will not be released by authorities or published by Sumner Newscow because they are juveniles. One suspect is a member of the Wellington High School football team and was sporting a mohawk hairdo and bleached hair color during the alleged crime that took place on the south side of the WRC building at 1:50 a.m. Sunday morning.

WRC Director Cody White said a surveillance camera was placed above the south side WRC entry way, after the building was burglarized twice before (see story here). White said the camera was hooked up to a DVR system inside the building and the tape shows the two suspects attempted break-in.

“Ultimately, it was his hair cut that did them in,” White said of identifying one of the suspects. “There was a moment on the surveillance camera where a face was shown. But that wasn’t how we identified him. It was the mohawk.”

The Wellington football team has a traditional weekly haircut party on Thursday evening before a game where many members of the team cut and dye their hair as a ritual. After viewing the tape, White went down to observe a high school football practice Monday afternoon, but did not see a person sporting a similar haircut. A Wellington police officer had better luck after observing the tape. He went to a Wellington junior varsity football game played at Sellers Park Monday evening and found a player sporting a similar haircut, White said.

Wellington head coach Tyler Ryan said the person in question is no longer on the football team.

The boy was taken into custody Monday evening, where he allegedly confessed to two previous Wellington rec building robberies, the Country Cafe robbery (see story here), and a couple of break-ins at the Assembly of God Church. It was through the interview and confession, that the second suspect was identified.

The WRC had been broken into twice where more than $300 in cash and several video games were taken. Original surveillance camera equipment was also stolen.

A new surveillance camera system was set up. White said when he went to work on Monday morning, he noticed the camera above the south entrance was stolen.

He immediately went to his office and used the DVR for which the camera was connected.

White said there was a dance on Saturday evening ending around 11 p.m. So he started looking at the tape and at 1:50 a.m. according to the system’s clock, two juveniles entered the camera view. One male was wearing eyeglasses, a mohawk and wearing shorts. The second subject had dark colored hair. Both males were shirtless and using their shirts to cover their faces, obviously discovering the camera.

White said initially when he saw the two boys on tape, he took it down to the police station where police analyzed it and decided to release it to the media for public help. He then went back and viewed the video a second time and discovered there was a second stint in which the juveniles returned maybe 10 to 15 minutes later with a more incriminating view of the suspects. It showed that the two boys had crow bars and had climbed to the place where the camera was situated and was forcefully removed. The DVR tape went blank thereafter.

White said the camera, valued at $160, was eventually discovered in one of the suspect’s neighbors’ backyard.

“My suspicions were correct all along in that these were two kids who had been to a lot of Wellington rec activities,” White said. “One was a regular participant at the after school programs and both had been at several Redline dances. So they knew their way around.”

Wellington Police Chief Tracy Heath said with the confession there is enough evidence to connect the robberies with those at the Country Cafe and Assembly of God. More than $1,000 in cash was taken from the downtown business on 107 W. Harvey. It is now up to Sumner County Attorney Kerwin Spencer what will happen next.

“Kudos to Mr. White for his diligence on this case,” Heath said. “He assisted us tremendously especially with the video equipment. I know a lot of businesses may not be able to afford video surveillance cameras. But if they could it would be a huge advantage to us when these type of crime occur.”

Heath said because of the camera, the two juveniles did not enter the rec building Sunday morning.

“One can most certainly conclude that to go to the same location three different times to burglarize the same building is most certainly a ‘bold’ decision on their part,” Heath said.

Country Cafe was closed for a week after the burglary to its business, but it reopened on Monday.

“Hopefully, this will be something these two young men will learn a lesson from and become better citizens down the road,” Heath said. “Burglaries are such a personal crime because you are taking away someone’s personal property. In these cases not only were you hurting the people who work at the rec center, the restaurant and the church, but you are hurting all those who use those places.”

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