By Rosemary K. Otzman
Charles Clifford Craig, 20, of Van Buren Township was arrested early Saturday morning after breaking into the Tin Pan Saloon in Sumpter Township.
Sumpter Township Police Detective John Toth said Sgt. Jim Cayce was on random patrol and was able to get to the scene in just 18 seconds after dispatch told him the alarm had been activated at Tin Pan.
Sgt. Cayce had just passed Sumpter Road while driving on Willis and turned around to hurry to Tin Pan.
Det. Toth said Cayce saw the side door had been penetrated and he entered the building and was joined by Sgt. Chris McGlynn. After searching the business, they found Craig wedged between a Budweiser display wagon and the wall.
Craig had a backpack with a crowbar and one of the Tin Pan’s money drawers.
Toth said Craig was taken into custody and confessed to all he had done.
Toth said Craig is a former Tin Pan employee who found himself in horrible position and didn’t know what to do. He has a job that requires him to have a car and the car had broken down. He needed to get it fixed and had nowhere to turn. His father is out of state and his mother wouldn’t help him, Toth said.
Craig’s child was born in August and he bought a mobile home at Van Buren Estates on Lohr Road in October.
Toth said Craig was very well-spoken and wrote the best statement he has ever seen.
Craig didn’t have a gun, but he wore a bullet-proof vest. He also had on two to three layers of clothing since he walked from his home to Tin Pan.
Craig said he contemplated robbing a gas station, but he didn’t want anyone to get hurt, so he went for a place that was closed.
“I’d have helped him if he only would have asked,” said Tin Pin owner Steve Kovach.
Craig was arraigned Sunday on a charge of breaking and entering with intent, a 10-year felony, and larceny from a building, a 4-year felony. Bond was set at $25,000, or 10%, and he was taken to the Wayne County Jail. His exam at 34th District Court is set for 1 p.m., Jan. 7.
“He didn’t know what to do,” Toth said, adding that Craig thought his family would get thrown out of their home if he missed a payment.
Toth said Craig’s situation is reflective of the current economy and is very sad.
Toth also noted that an 18-second response time is just outstanding.
By Rosemary K. Otzman