Burglary Victim Sends Warning to Thieves

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by Allison Brown, Fox 8 Reporter

PERRY TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Recent burglaries in Lake County are keeping people on high alert.  Authorities say the crimes have been happening for about a week, and victims are hoping for an arrest. 

At the same time, one of the burglary victims is sending a direct and threatening message to whoever is responsible.

Gary Stemen actually wrote out the words clearly in his front yard on a sign.  He doesn’t want anyone to mess with him again, and he’s pretty blunt about what he would do if the thieves come back.

"I was mad, took a Sharpie marker and stuck it out there, didn't think nothing of it," said Stemen.

His homemade sign on the corner of Paradise and Riverside Drive in Perry Township is getting some attention.  The message on the slab of wood addresses the criminal directly:  “I catch you.  I kill you.”

"I’m mad, I'm violated, this is my place," said the homeowner.

The resident is upset because he says early Sunday morning he realized his rifle was stolen out of the back of his Jeep.  Authorities later came to his home and dusted for fingerprints.

Stemen tells Fox 8 he is frustrated with the recent crimes happening in his neighborhood, and someone needs to take a stand.

"If nobody speaks up, nobody knows,” he said.

For about a week, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating burglary cases happening in Perry Township.  Vehicles and homes have been targeted.  Items like flat screen TVs, electronics, even a wedding ring were all reported stolen.

"It's every man's right to defend his property in any way it takes," said Doug Paris, who lives near the Stemens’.

Paris says his wife’s car was burglarized on Friday, so when he saw the sign in his neighbor’s yard, he knew there had been more trouble.

"It stopped me in my tracks and I pulled into his driveway and said hey what happened to you," said Paris.

"I've had at least 10 cars pull in my driveway supporting me, telling me about all of the robberies and stuff going on, nobody knew about it, now everybody knows about it," said Stemen.

The Lake County Sheriff says it's important for neighbors to look out for neighbors especially if crime is happening in the area, but he says the best thing you can do is if you see anything suspicious, call police right away.

No arrests have been made in the burglaries, but police tell Fox 8 most of the time the crimes are committed by men under the age of 25.  Usually they are looking for smaller, expensive items that can easily be converted to cash.

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