Columbus burglary suspect left wallet at crime scene, police say

COLUMBUS, Ind. -- A mistake by an accused thief could help solve a series of thefts in Columbus.

Police say a burglary suspect was arrested this week after dropping his wallet at the scene of a crime.

It started in an alley in Columbus, when a crook smashed his way into a detached garage and stole $4,000 in tools, but left behind something just as valuable.

"The homeowner, while looking around his property, found a wallet that was discarded," said Columbus police Lt. Matt Harris.

That wallet led police to the parking lot of an apartment complex where they found 24-year-old Chaz Berger passed out in his truck with the stolen tools inside.

"It came together very quickly with the suspect nice enough to leave his wallet behind to help track him down.  We’ve recovered several thousand dollars in property and we’re working hard to get back to the owner," said Harris.

While searching an apartment near Berger's truck, Lt. Harris says more stolen items were recovered connecting Berger to a second garage break-in and possibly other thefts.

"Our officers have already returned items from an earlier burglary and we’re looking to try to locate the owners of additional items we’ve recovered," said Harris.

Court records show Berger does have a criminal history, including battery and drug related charges, but no previous burglary cases.

Still, Columbus police say anyone who has been the victim of a recent garage break-in can contact their department to find out if the cases are connected.

"If you’re a victim of a burglary, we’d like to know because it’s a challenge to locate owners of these items if there’s no serial numbers or if a report wasn’t made.  It just underscores the importance that if you are the victim of a crime go ahead and report it," said Harris.

Berger was booked into jail on a 48 hour hold for a preliminary charge of burglary.

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