Having already had items stolen from him three times in a month, Andy Saurer took matters into his own hands in the midst of a fourth attempt Thursday afternoon.
At 1:50 p.m., an alert neighbor in an area near Elizabethtown called the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department to report a suspicious car. Unaware, Saurer was on his way home from volunteering to help remodel the Sandcreek Azalia Friends Church.
Upon his arrival, the Columbus Symphony musician found a car in his driveway and an intruder in the back, carrying a trumpet and a laptop.
His intention was to make them face the music.
“I told (the intruder) to put the stuff down and get on the ground,” said Saurer, 59, who plays bass with the symphony. “And he did.”
Saurer’s nephew and a neighbor arrived moments later. The suspect in the car then attempted to confront the trio.
Saurer, who was unarmed, told the man to get back in the car. And he did.
“These guys did everything I told them to do,” Saurer said. “It’s like I had power over them.”
The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department arrived a few minutes later and arrested Dustin Mays, 23, of Scipio, on a preliminary charge of burglary and Michael Shuffitt, 24, of Columbus, on a preliminary charge of possession of paraphernalia.
Saurer told The Republic that he saw one of the suspects near his home on the day of the first incident.
“I called him a name,” Saurer said. “And he threatened to come get me again.”
Maj. Todd Noblitt, spokesperson for the BCSD, said local law enforcement officials do not encourage local homeowners and neighbors to take the law into their own hands. But, he said, community involvement is helpful.
“It takes neighbors watching out for neighbors,” he said. “So we strongly encourage people within the community to know their neighbors, their neighborhoods, what appears to be out of place and what appears to be suspicious.”
The sheriff’s department was in the process of placing Mays and Shuffitt on 72-hour hold Friday to further the investigation.
“We are looking to see if these individuals are involved in the other burglaries,” Noblitt said. “We’re working with other law enforcement agencies to see if there’s any link.”