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Local shop owner catches burglar in the act, tries to chase him down

(Photo by Ethan Hutchins)
(Photo by Ethan Hutchins)(KWTX)
Published: Feb. 17, 2016 at 5:42 AM CST
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A China Spring area man who decided to stake out his shop after a break-in caught a burglar in the act early Wednesday.

The shop owner fired a shot in the direction of the stolen pickup truck the would-be burglar was driving as the suspect fled and then the owner’s son got in his vehicle and tried to chase down the suspect.

The truck ended up crashing into a tree and the suspect ran, sending McLennan County deputies on an early-morning search.

The incident happened just after 3 a.m. Wednesday on Utah Street, in China Spring, where a man was guarding a building that was broken into earlier in the week, McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said.

The burglar returned early Wednesday and tried to break in again, but the owner confronted him, and when the burglar got into a pickup truck and fled.

The armed owner fired a shot as the burglar left the property and then the man’s son got in his vehicle and gave chase.

Initial reports incorrectly indicated that shots were fired during the chse.

Eventually the suspect lost control of the pickup, which crashed into a tree off China Spring Highway on Markum Ranch Road, McNamara said.

The suspect bailed out of his pickup and ran.

McNamara said several deputies, a helicopter and other units searched for the suspect for a couple of hours but couldn’t find him.

“If we’d have had FLIR on that helicopter we’d probably have found him,” McNamara said.

FLIR, or Forward Looking Infrared Radar, was developed by the U.S. Army to aid pilots and gunners in seeing targets even on the darkest nights.

McLennan County has been awarded a FLIR unit to equip its helicopter, but the radar won’t be installed until early April, McNamara said.

The suspect still is on the loose, but deputies have recovered the truck and impounded it, hoping to find more clues.

McNamara said deputies verified that the pickup truck was stolen from a Marina in Waco a few days ago.

Investigators say they’re confident the Wednesday morning incident is tied to the earlier burglary because they recovered some tools that were stolen in the first break-in from the truck Wednesday morning.

McNamara later said he commends the owner for protecting his property.

(Ke'Sha Lopez contributed to this story)