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Business owner catches burglar stuck in chimney

A Harrison, Arkansas, business owner arrived at work Wednesday morning to find a man stuck in his chimney.

July 24, 2013|By: Joanna Small, KSPR News | jsmall@kspr.com

HARRISON, Ark. - It must be a Santa thing because there's nothing magical about a regular guy getting stuck in a chimney, especially when he's trying to rob the place. 

It happened Wednesday morning in Harrison, Arkansas.  Police say 38-year-old Michael Wayne Case Jr. was lodged in a local business's chimney for nearly ten hours.  So while he's facing a slew of felonies related to his break-in, cops say he owes the couple who turned him in a big thank you.

"Not like Pawn Stars," the Raneys says with a smile.  "While Harrison, Arkansas, is a bit more predictable than Las Vegas, Nevada-- "we deal mostly in music, tools, guns and jewelry."

In the pawn business Ernest and Marie Eaney never know what will come in their shop or apparently how it will get there.

"I never imagined anybody coming down the chimney," Ernest says. "In part because nobody can come down the chimney.  It's sealed off at the bottom, but if that's not enough of a deterent there's this.  That's uh, 10 and a half," Ernest says, measuring the diameter of the opening from on top of his business's roof."

The hole is tiny.

"It's hard to believe that this person got down in there, it's real hard to believe," Ernest remarks, shaking his head.

Yet that is exactly where Ernest found Michael Wayne Case Jr.

"I thought well a bird or animal was probably in there so I wanted to go up and check, and when I got up there it was a person looking up at me, and I asked him what he was doing down there and why he was trying to break into the building and he got real violent at that time," Ernest tells us.

Ernest called 911 and police were a bit surprised, but along with the fire department they pulled Michael Case out of his misery, maybe just in time.

"He could have been in there a long time before anyone knew he was there, no water, no food, no anything," says Harrison police assistant chief Sam Martin.

All he had was a little notoriety for the bad Santa and the Harrison pawn shop with a "Sin City-size" story to tell.

"I actually felt kind of sorry for him, he looked pitiful," Ernest concludes.
 
Among other thing Case is charged with resisting arrest because even though he was surrounded by police, firefighters, and EMS, after they pulled him out of the chimney he still tried to get away.

Ernest says Case caused about $2,500 in damage to the chimney.  After he got stuck he kicked out the tile sides to make more of a pocket to crouch in.

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