Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 6, 2014

Two men caught in act of burglarizing Bluefield home

BLUEFIELD — Police in Bluefield continued working through the weekend to recover items stolen during the month of December from a Bluefield residence and fenced at various places in a four-county area of the two Virginias.

The two suspects in the case, one from Bluefield and the other from Falls Mills, Va., were arrested on Thursday in the act of attempting to burglarize the residence at least one more time. Ward Sowers, 29, of Bluefield, and Bruce Smith, 34, of Falls Mills, Va., were arrested on Thursday and charged with burglary, conspiracy, grand larceny and fleeing on foot, according to Patrolman J.W. Murray Jr., of the Bluefield Police Department.

“The subjects have been in and out of the residence several times,” Murray said. “The resident discovered that some items were missing and contacted us on Dec. 27, (2013). Myself and Patrolman A.L. Crook investigated and asked the homeowner if we could hide inside the house the next time he was going out of town and see if we could catch them in the act.”

The two officers concealed themselves in the house on Edgewood Road, but didn’t have to wait too long. Murray said that at about 12:30 p.m. a male subject approached the residence through the back yard, went around the swimming pool and came up to a back door into the residence.

“He opened the door and closed it right away to see what was going to happen,” Murray said. “We watched him walk back through the yard to a vehicle.” Murray said that two telephone calls came to the residence. “I guess he was making sure no one was home,” Murray said. “In a few minutes, two men wearing latex gloves — Mr. Sowers and Mr. Smith — came up to the same door and entered the residence.”

Murray said that the two men discussed checking out a closet for valuables, and with that, Murray and Crook pulled back the curtain where they had been secreted, identified themselves as police officers and placed the subjects under arrest.

“It was the lawn care people,” Murray said. “They both took off running, but we chased them down. They confessed.”

According to Murray, the burglaries took place over a month. With the help of the suspects, police were able to recover most of the items from locations in Mercer and Raleigh counties in West Virginia as well as in Bland and Tazewell counties in Virginia. Murray said items recovered included a coin collection, as well as several family items — valued at several thousand dollars, although he did not give a specific amount.

Sowers was released on bond while Smith is being held at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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