By Officer Lloyd Popp
It was about 3 a.m. on a hot summer Saturday night when my partner and I got the call, “Three William 56, proceed to Bernies Cherrio Inn, for a possible burglary in progress. Dispatch advised us the owner, in an upstairs apartment, hears noises coming from the bar below.” I acknowledge the call and we speed to the scene. Now ask any police officer to name one of the most satisfying aspects of their job and many will say “Catching a burglar.”
It’s like a football player intercepting a pass and running for a touchdown. A major adrenaline rush to be sure! Responding to any in progress calls, many thoughts come to mind. Who are the perpetrators? Novice or career criminals? A novice oftentimes gives up when confronted, career criminals on the other hand, won’t hesitate to shoot police officers because you stand between them and freedom.
Another factor giving this call urgency was the fact that the caller was my wife’s Aunt, an elderly widow who lived alone above the bar. Flying to the scene, we arrived minutes later on whisper mode, not wanting to alert the burglars to our arrival. Once all exits were covered by assisting officers, my partner and I entered through the front door which we found to have been pried open. After a careful and thorough search of the bar’s main floor and basement, we were unable to locate the suspects. Nonetheless, our search determined someone had been inside. The cash register had been opened and a large amount of change was on the floor. Two bar stools were also moved about three feet away from the bar and a number of bills were on the floor next to the stools.
After our search, my partner and I discussed the speed in which all responding patrol units arrived on the scene. We were puzzled as to how the suspects could have escaped and felt a second search was warranted to ensure no hiding place was missed. The additional search provided the same results…No bad guys!
In a last ditch, desperate attempt to find the burglars, I shined my light at the false ceiling. I surmised there was no way the ceiling could support the weight of an adult as the tiles were usually held up by wires. Just then there was a loud, thunderous noise from above. We looked up and saw the ceiling tiles and metal supports come crashing down along with the two burglars who had been hiding above them.
Through a dusty haze, our flashlights illuminated their faces, contorted in pain. Upon seeing the two hapless criminals, we looked at each other and almost in unison, called out their names. Each of us knew both suspects well having had numerous interactions with them over the years. Surprisingly, no one moved in to handcuff the injured suspects who were writhing in pain from their 12 foot fall to the floor. There is absolutely no way we could have, our bodies were paralyzed from laughing so hard to do anything!
Eventually and with great effort, we pulled ourselves together and called Aurora Fire Department medics to attend to the victims, oops, I mean suspects! They were treated and released from the hospital for multiple contusions and were transported to the police department and charged with burglary. Ultimately both plead guilty and were sentenced to prison for their crime.
This story dramatizes the importance of perseverance in life. Take your time, be thorough, methodical and never give up on anything when faced with a dilemma. Because, just when you’ve exhausted all avenues and are ready to quit, help comes from above!