Car Burglar Victim Fights off Three Men

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Bay County Sheriff's investigators are looking for a group of young men, suspected in a string of vehicle burglaries.

A WJHG employee was one of their victims.

As the technical director of NewsChannel 7 Today, Stephen O'Connor works some strange hours. One morning last week, he was getting ready to leave for work when he received a shock.

"I came around the corner into my driveway and I saw my door ajar with someone in my car, which is very uncommon," O'Connor said.

Security video shows another night-time burglary in O'Connor's neighborhood.

Sheriff's investigators believe the ring had hit more than 20 vehicles when O'Connor caught them red handed.

"I startled him, before I had even given him a chance to run I grabbed him. I figured I'd be able to hold him long enough until the cops came. That's when I began to tussle," he said.

"That would not be what we recommend, but everyone kind of has to make those decisions for themselves. However, for a property crime like that, you could be exposing yourself to danger," said
Major Tommy Ford with the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

"In the exchange, I slammed him into the side panel of the van and knocked him to the ground. I just held him on the ground and waited for the cops. This is the easiest bit of police work they will ever do," O'Connor said.

While struggling with the suspect, O'Connor dialed 9-1-1 on his cell phone. That's when the situation turned serious.

"Then I get hit in the back the head. His buddy, robbing the truck from across the street, jumped in. So now it's the three of us fighting," he said.

"You'll find that sometimes these guys will be armed. you could be placing yourself in a deadly situation for a GPS or pocket change," Major Ford said.

"So the third one showed up, informed me if I don't let them go he will shoot me. Then he made a gesture to his hip like he had a gun," O'Connor said.

All three hoped on bikes and took off, getting away before police arrived.

"The smart thing to do wouldn't be to approach someone breaking into your car, it would be to call police and let them deal with that," said Major Ford.

O'Connor is happy to announce that he hasn't heard of any vehicle burglaries in his neighborhood since his encounter.