Homeowner sets trap to capture repeat burglar

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Burgle me once, shame on me. Burgle me twice -- you're busted.

Salt Lake City police say a Sugar House homeowner, having lost a laptop and jewelry to an earlier break-in, set a trap Tuesday that caught the alleged thief coming back for seconds. After setting off a homemade noise-making alarm, the man -- whom police call a career criminal -- was tackled by the homeowner and three other men who joined in a foot chase.

"As it turns out, in the course of investigating the first burglary, the officers kind of mentioned to the homeowner that if you leave all your newspapers in the driveway and mail in the mailbox, that can make you a target for burglars," said Lt. Craig Gleason.

"This homeowner, instead of removing the papers and mail, left the stuff there -- specifically with the intent of luring the burglar back in," he added.

Using a string of Dixie cups and other, unspecified household items, the homeowner attached his makeshift alert device to the front door. While he was taking a shower, the would-be burglar opened the door of the residence in the 2400 South block of 1300 East and triggered a racket.

"Our homeowner jumped into a set of sweats, saw the suspect legging it out of the area and gave chase. About this time, three guys in a van pulled over, asked him what was going on and he told them -- then they all jumped the suspect in a backyard about a block and a half away and held him until police arrived," Gleason said.

The 50-year-old suspect was "a bit scuffed up" when he was booked into jail on suspicion of burglary. Gleason said it turned out the man has a long criminal record of break-ins.

Gleason acknowledged having mixed feelings about the incident.

"On one hand, you have to respect someone who chooses to be active in protecting their home ... but there also is an enormous amount of risk involved," Gleason said. "So, I respect his intent, but I wouldn't want to see people making that kind of choice. You never know, the guy might have a weapon and when cornered, use it."

The suspect was not found to be armed in this case. "Everything turned out OK this time," he said, "so it's a great story."