Last week, Ocean View police, with the assistance of other agencies, arrested Damien Andell, 25, of Ocean View, in connection with multiple burglaries and thefts during the month of November in the vicinity of Elliott Avenue and Daisy Avenue.
“We had a homeowner who had been victimized twice by this guy. He was on a high alert and saw someone snooping around,” said Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin. “He spotted him and called us.
“We were waiting for the call,” he noted. “We knew he was going to hit again. As soon as the call came in of a suspicious person in that area, we just pounced on it. We had four Ocean View officers out there pretty darn quick and starting calling in everyone else.”
McLaughlin said that Fenwick Island, Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Delaware State police all responded to the scene to search for Andell, who had fled from officers on foot.
“At one time, we had a dozen officers in town looking for this guy. It’s another example of what we can do when we combine forces. It was just a good cooperative effort,” said McLaughlin, adding that he was also grateful for the help from emergency dispatchers.
“We set up a strong perimeter so that we could get him contained and, hopefully, get him. It took a little while, but we got him. We were fortunate to be able to respond very quickly with a number of officers, keep this guy contained in an area and track him down and get him.”
After his arrest on Nov. 26, police charged Andell with six counts of burglary third degree, six counts of theft, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of heroin. Police also reported that Andell was in possession of eight bags of suspected heroin at the time of his arrest. Andell was committed to the Sussex Correctional Institute for lack of secured bond.
McLaughlin said that it is important for residents to keep their homes and vehicles locked at all times and to maintain outdoor lighting.
“We always tell everybody to lock up their belongings, keep the cars locked, keep the houses locked — even during the daytime, even when you’re home. At nighttime, exterior lighting is beneficial.
“It’s a deterrent for anyone looking to come onto your property,” he noted. “It’s also great for us, because it allows us to see. If the officers are out patrolling, if the area is lit up nice, then that gives us the opportunity to spot somebody better.”
He added that residents should not hesitate to call 911 if they see something suspicious.
“Most importantly, like this homeowner, when you see something, call 911. That’s the thing we can’t convince people to do. People are reluctant to call 911. The average person may go an entire lifetime without ever having to call 911. They second-guess themselves…
“I always tell people, ‘If it causes you to pause and look twice, that’s OK. it’s all you need. Call 911. If it’s nothing, it’s nothing.’ If the person was mistaken, no harm, no foul. So often, we don’t get that call, and a crime does occur. We wind up coming out there and finding out after the fact that someone saw something,” he lamented.
“I always tell people to go with their gut instinct,” he said. “If your gut is telling you, ‘Something’s not right over there’; you’re sitting there, peeking out your window; you’re getting your spouse out of bed to say, ‘Look’ — that’s enough to call 911. You don’t have to wait until the next day when your neighbor says, ‘Gosh, we had a break in last night.”
McLaughlin added that, without the resident’s proactive efforts, Addell might have still been out on the streets.
“This gentleman who contacted us the other night, he’d been victimized twice, He was on alert and, fortunately, wasn’t afraid to pick up the phone and call. That alone was what allowed us to key in on that area and ultimately led to the capture of the subject. We can’t be everywhere. We have to rely on the public to be our eyes and ears at times.”