|Updated: 12/27/2012 5:18 pm
||Published: 12/27/2012 3:12 pm
A man is behind bars after police say he was caught stealing from a vehicle in a driveway, and the owners chased him down. It happened in south Tulsa near 71st and Memorial just before midnight on Wednesday.
Police say Justin Watt was helping himself to electronics and medicine after he found the vehicle’s doors unlocked. The owners interrupted him and chased him when he ran off.
But it’s not the burglary that has this family so upset. Their home had caught fire just hours before, leaving their upstairs bedrooms a charred mess. Firefighters believe the fire started from an electrical problem, and now everything including their Christmas gifts is gone.
Standing in his twin daughter’s bedroom – George Hill can’t believe how much he’s lost in a matter of 24 hours.
"It's just crazy I mean we just had a house fire and for somebody to go and do something like that, it's just senseless,” he says.
The fire started around 5 on Wednesday evening. Afterwards, George and his family left to go get something to eat and then go to a hotel. They later returned to their house to check on their pets.
"My wife noticed that somebody was getting out of my vehicle at the time that we were pulling up,” says George.
Three men were helping themselves to the items in his SUV.
"I had a Garmin GPS system, a bunch of loose change and all of my wife's medications were in the car and he took that,” he says.
That’s when George’s son took after Watt chasing him behind Burlington Coat Factory.
"When I got here he had him down with one knee on his back and his hand behind his head like this so he was restrained and couldn't move,” says George.
His son held Watt down until police arrived.
"When we got him up there all of my stuff was falling out of his pockets. He had my change on him, my Garmin, my wife's phone, camera, my wife's medicine she has,” he says.
Under Oklahoma law, you don’t need a badge to make an arrest. The law says if you know that someone has committed a crime, you can make a citizen’s arrest. But remember, you could subject yourself to great liability if something goes wrong. Somebody could end up getting hurt or you could end up arresting the wrong person. This could violate their fourth amendment rights.
"I’m just hoping that he reveals the other guys that were with him just as well so we can get those kinds of people off the street,” says George.
Even though you have the right to make a citizen’s arrest, it’s always best to simply pull out your phone and dial 911 and let the police handle it if you can.
If you would like to help out the Hill family, a fund has been set up in George Hill’s name at the City National Bank at 68th and Memorial.
Watt was booked into the Tulsa County Jail and he’s being held on a $2500 bond. We did some checking and Watt does have a prior criminal record for child abuse and driving under suspension.