LORDSTOWN - Police Chief Brent Milhoan admitted it's not often law enforcement gets to catch a thief in the act.
On Wednesday, the odds changed. Milhoan said he walked up unnoticed to a man who was loading a flat-screen TV into the back of a car that matched the description of a vehicle police had been looking for the past several weeks.
"It was kind of cool, actually," Milhoan said. "I think if he had seen me, he might of taken off running. But I was able to walk right up to him without him noticing. He still had the remote control for the TV in his back pocket. It's not often you can get that close to someone like that."
Milhoan arrested Stanley Helman, 36, of 453 Warren, on the spot. He was taken to the Trumbull County Jail and charged with felony burglary and having weapons under disability.
Police and jail officials said they expect him to be arraigned today.
Milhoan said police received a tip from Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill about 10 a.m. that a vehicle matching one believed to have been seen at other recent burglaries was spotted in the Palmyra Road area. Hill reported that the car had pulled into his driveway and that the driver hesitated before pulling back out.
Milhoan said he and another officer watched the area, and the chief spotted a black Mercury Mystic, which matched the description of the car he was looking for, in the driveway of a house in the 6900 block of Palmyra Road.
"I pulled in to the driveway next door and saw the guy coming out of the house carrying the TV," Milhoan said. "That just doesn't happen. At least it's never happened to me."
Milhoan ordered Helman to the ground and made the arrest without incident. The chief then found several other items in the home being prepared for removal. He said there was a pillowcase taken from the resident's bed filled with jewelry and other items.
The burglary marks Lordstown's seventh this month. Milhoan said in the past 10 years the village has averaged one a month. He said the recent burglaries have occurred between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Police said the car Helman was driving fits the description of a vehicle spotted in the areas of at least two other burglaries. In one recent case, an elderly woman was home when a man entered her house, Milhoan said.
"They basically confronted each other and he took off," he said. "We think what may be happening is that the suspect knocks on the door and if no one answers, he then breaks into the home. We're cautioning everyone that if someone knocks on your door, especially if you see them then going around to the back of the house, let us know. Be careful."
Police said Helman, who was alone when Milhoan caught him, has a long criminal history and has previously served time in prison and the county jail.