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Published: Sunday, 4/24/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Police say mobile criminals posing dangers areawide

Authorities offer tips to make people less vulnerable

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Jenny and Jerry Lagger of Sylvania were victims of a robbery at their home after being targeted and followed. Jenny and Jerry Lagger of Sylvania were victims of a robbery at their home after being targeted and followed.
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The garage door wouldn’t go down, something — a rake, a shovel, maybe — must be blocking the sensor, Jerry and Jenny Lagger thought. Mr. Lagger turned to see what it was and, standing in their garage was a man with a gun.

“I couldn’t tell you what he looked like, but I could sure tell you what that gun looked like,” Mr. Lagger said.

Police later identified the gunman as Rolland Houke, 18, of Toledo.

It was about 12:45 a.m. on March 13 when the Laggers found themselves wondering if they would be killed. They had just returned to their home in the 6000 block of Apple Meadow Drive in Sylvania after taking family members home to South Toledo after playing cards.

“He said, ‘Give me all you got,’” Mr. Lagger said.

Mr. Lagger, 59, handed over the cash from his wallet, and Mrs. Lagger, 58, held her purse out at arm’s length for the man to take.

With the couple’s money, credit cards, and other valuables in hand, the suspect took off running with another man who was standing in the driveway, probably as a lookout, said Sylvania police Capt. Rick Schnoor. The second man was later identified as Shahid McClellan, 19, of Toledo.

Mr. Lagger went running after the men, making it to the corner of his street as he watched the car they got into drive away. Mrs. Lagger called 911. Two women were in the getaway car waiting when the suspects jumped in, authorities said. Police later arrested Diana Schuab, 27, of Swanton and Juanita Osley, 20, of Toledo.

The four charged in connection with the robbery are being held in the Lucas County jail on various charges.

On April 13, Houke, Schuab, and Osley pleaded not guilty to two counts each of aggravated robbery, two counts of robbery, and one count of aggravated burglary. They are being held in the Lucas County jail on bonds of $250,000, $125,000, and $150,000, respectively.

They are scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on May 23.

McClellan was indicted in Lucas County Common Pleas Court last week on two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of robbery, and one count of aggravated burglary. He is scheduled for arraignment Wednesday. McClellan is being held in the county jail; bond has not been set.

Picking targets

Through a Sylvania police investigation, the couple later learned that the four allegedly followed the pair more than 12 miles from South Toledo to their home. The suspects tried to follow several other vehicles without luck before latching on to the Laggers.

The Laggers didn’t realize they were being followed until they thought about it days later.

“This was very unusual for us,” Captain Schnoor said.

Through the first quarter of 2010, there were eight burglaries and one robbery in the city. For the same time period this year, there have been five burglaries and two robberies, which is about a 20 percent decrease, Captain Schnoor said.

Across the Ohio line in Michigan, a man sleeping in his Substation Road home in Erie Township was robbed at gunpoint several weeks ago by four masked men. Only a few hours later, a man who lives in the 3700 block of Suder Avenue, in Toledo, just a few miles away, scared off four men wearing hoods.

Both robberies came after a Lenawee County family was terrorized by at least three masked men in their Lime Creek Highway home in Medina Township on Oct. 27, 2010.

The men tied up and blindfolded the two parents and their 8-year-old son. They sexually assaulted the mother in the presence of her 5-year-old son.

Criminals on move

Toledo police Lt. David Schmidt says criminals are becoming more emboldened. Toledo police Lt. David Schmidt says criminals are becoming more emboldened.
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Although there have been several recent reports of serious crimes — including home invasions — outside the city of Toledo, a suburban crime spree isn’t likely, authorities said. Instead, they said, criminals are more mobile.

“[Criminals] don’t look at boundaries as much as we do, but what they do is look at potential victims. They want good places,” said Perrysburg police Deputy Chief Mike Gilmore. “Criminals are becoming more mobile and they go beyond city lines.”

On April 10, Perrysburg police arrested three Toledo men as they were peeking into cars. When police began to investigate, they found the men had been breaking into vehicles in Toledo, Perrysburg, Rossford, and Detroit. Police have identified several victims and have, so far, filed 15 felony charges among the three men, Deputy Chief Gilmore said.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the April 3 armed robbery on Substation Road where Joe Bodi, 78, was awakened by four masked men inside his bedroom. The men ransacked the home, keeping a gun pointed to his head.

SAFETY SUGGESTIONS

Tips for protecting your home:

Lock it up. Make sure your doors and windows are locked. “You’d be surprised how many people don’t,” Toledo police Lt. David Schmidt said. If you have sliding doors at your home, keep a stick or rod in the rail to keep it from being opened easily. If your home has an attached garage, make sure the garage door and the door which connects the garage to the home is locked.”

Make some noise. If you can afford it, install an alarm system that is monitored 24 hours a day by an alarm company. If you can’t do that, purchase small door and window alarms that will sound if opened. At the very least, “get some Christmas jingle bells or something similar to put on a door so, while you’re sleeping, you can tell someone is coming in,” Lieutenant Schmidt said.

It takes a village. If you’re going out of town, tell your neighbors and ask them to keep watch over your house. “Everyone should keep an eye on everyone else’s places,” the lieutenant said. “Even if you’re not buds, if you see strange people climbing out of your neighbors’ window, call the police.” Don’t broadcast your vacation on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as that only helps potential criminals know when the house will be all clear.

Protect the house. “A German Shepherd with big teeth” won’t hurt to have in the house, the lieutenant said. Keep the bushes and shrubs around your house trimmed. It will help police and neighbors see if anyone is hiding out in them. Privacy fences also make it more difficult for police to see any suspicious activity near your home.

One step ahead. If you’re headed out, plan ahead. Put lights and possibly even a radio on a timer to make it look like someone is home. “Don’t leave the light on 24/7 because then everyone knows [you’re gone],” the lieutenant said. “It helps burglars find stuff.”

Source: Toledo Police Lt. David Schmidt

Detective Jeff Pauli said there are times when people living in Toledo or elsewhere in northwest Ohio will cross the Ohio-Michigan border and commit crimes, but there’s nothing to suggest that there are increased incidents.

“This has been ongoing as far as I can remember,” Detective Pauli said. “There are times where it seems like I’m always in Toledo or the Toledo area, Lucas County area, and there are times I’m just not.”

City communication

Whether criminals are crossing borders and city limits, it’s important for authorities to know what’s going on in the cities around them, Deputy Chief Gilmore said.

“I think that a lot of times, what Toledo experiences, we can be affected by it because we’re all so connected,” he said. “Are we influenced? Yes. All of us are because we’re all pretty much a metro area and we’re just affected by what’s going on. We do have to pay attention to what’s happening to our neighbors … because it may affect us.”

In Toledo last year, police report a decrease in burglaries, down 9.6 percent from 2009. In 2010, 7,287 burglaries were reported while 8,064 were reported in 2009. Chief Mike Navarre said statistics for 2011 were not yet available. All reports made are investigated before being tabulated as statistical facts, he said.

Criminals are becoming more bold, said Toledo Police Lt. David Schmidt of the property investigations section.

“Burglars have less and less fear of any retaliation from the police or from the courts,” Lieutenant Schmidt said.

Police have investigated reports of people breaking into homes after knocking and not receiving an answer at the door — in several instances, young children were home at the time.

Take precautions
There are steps people can take to make their homes more secure and it’s important to be proactive, Lieutenant Schmidt said.

The Laggers are resting a little easier knowing that the four people authorities believe are responsible have been arrested.

They don’t have to fall asleep worrying if the car is gone — the car and house keys were stolen — or if the suspects are waiting to break in again.

Regardless if the criminals are down the street, across town, or three cities over, people like the Laggers are thinking about taking extra precautions.

The night of the robbery, they had one of their son’s dogs stay at the house. The couple changed the locks on the house and rekeyed the cars, installed extra outdoor lights, and are thinking about installing a security system.

“You never think it will happen to me and all of a sudden it did,” Mr. Lagger said. “It’s traumatic.”

Mrs. Lagger, who works out regularly and stays active, had a heart attack the Tuesday after the robbery. Her doctors told her it’s likely a result of the robbery-induced stress. Mrs. Lagger will be fine, doctors told the couple.

“I always thought we were cautious,” Mrs. Lagger said.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054.



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