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Roommates help take down band of burglars

(Left) Preston Wilbur, Shay Stuck

(Left) 18-year-old Preston Wilbur, 20-year-old Shay Stuck

When one of the men living at 444 E. 16th Ave. awoke to the sound of footsteps running up and down his stairs, he turned on the lights — and realized his house had been burglarized.

Once the other housemates were aware of what happened, they didn’t call the cops. They didn’t even take an inventory of all the stuff that was missing. Instead, they grabbed a crowbar and a baseball bat and jumped into action.

“Our adrenaline’s going, and we’re mad,” recalled Dominique Ybanes, a second-year in strategic communication and one of the renters of the property. “So if we see them, we’re going to take the opportunity.”

It wasn’t long before that opportunity arose.

With flashlights in hand, Ybanes and his housemates hit the streets.

“(My housemate was) just like, ‘They have to be around here. They have to be around here.’ So we shut off all our lights, shut our front door and we scope around the area,” Ybanes said.

Before long, they spotted a man in all black holding an iPad mini hiding in some bushes near their house. They also saw two other men with Xboxes take off running.

Together, they tackled the man in the bushes.

“(My housemate) grabbed him and threw him down and we held him, trying to get some answers,” Ybanes said. “It looked like a deer in headlights. He was scared.”

Ybanes and his housemates demanded the suspect, later identified as 20-year-old Shay Stuck, call his partner in crime to bring back their stuff.

“He called his friend and he was like crying, ‘They’re gonna beat me up. You gotta come back,’” Ybanes said. “We told his friend, ‘You have 10 minutes to bring us our stuff back. We have your number, you’re all going to get in trouble.’”

Justin Henderson, a second-year in international business and one of Ybanes’ housemates, said he wasn’t really scared that night. At that point, Henderson said he was just on the hunt for the people who’d wronged him.

“We were just trying to get s— done. We were taking care of business,” Henderson said. “We just wanted our s— back.”

The stolen items — which included a laptop, iPad mini, phone and longboards, estimated by Ybanes to be worth more than $2,000 total — were not all returned that night, but Ybanes said police have since found the house where the suspects were keeping all their items. Ybanes said they should be getting their things back this week.

Henderson said the burglars had come in through their back door, which two of their friends had left unlocked when they went home earlier that night.

Officers arrived on scene after several neighbors called the police to report a disturbance because of all the racket the men were making while tackling and talking to Stuck.

When the police arrived, they found 18-year-old Preston Wilbur and later 19-year-old Ashley Martin in a nearby car who they determined were both also a part of the burglary. The cops popped open the trunk of the car and found even more stolen goods — some of which didn’t belong to the men of East 16th Avenue.

That helped tip officers off to the fact that this wasn’t a one-time incident.

“The next thing we know is we’ve got at least one burglary, which multiplied up to at least six,” said Columbus Division of Police Commander Christopher Bowling. “We started realizing how many more they had done.”

Bowling said a total of four people were involved in the plot, and police think they’re responsible for at least five other burglaries in the off-campus area, the majority of which occurred between East 12th and East 16th avenues. One of the connected burglaries was reported to have occurred on North 4th Street.

Wilbur and Stuck were both arrested and charged with one count of burglary that night. Both cases were dismissed in Franklin County Municipal Court and both were listed as closed as of Sunday afternoon, according to a FCMC website search. Wilbur, however, also has an open case listed on the FCMC website for one count of burglary. That case’s address is listed as 420 E. 13th Ave. — another address listed on Columbus Police’s release of burglary locations.

Another of the burglary-suspects-in-question is a juvenile and faces six counts of burglary charges, three counts of felony theft and one count of misdemeanor theft, according to a CPD press release. The Lantern is not releasing his name because of his age.

When Ybanes and his housemates ventured to take down the suspects that night, they had no idea they were taking down a ring of bandits who police say are responsible for a string of burglaries, but Ybanes said it only makes their actions that much sweeter.

“We were like, ‘We’re the new neighborhood honchos around here,’” Ybanes said. “People can sleep safe with us when we’re on duty.”


  1. I could rag on these guys about the unlocked door, enabling an easy burglary attempt.
    I could point out the danger they ran into when they left their place and began searching for the suspects instead of immediately calling the cops.
    I could warn them that not all burglars are passive, unarmed teenaged squirts.
    I could warn them about the difference between felony and misdemeanor crimes and that “citizens’ arrest” (applicable in Ohio only for felonies) can turn into a legal issue if you don’t know what you’re doing or use excessive force.
    I could tell them that if they’re running around in the dark with tire irons and bats, and someone calls the police about a “disturbance,” they might just end up staring down the gun barrels of responding police officers in a high stress, low light situation.
    I could do all that and more.

    But I won’t. Instead I’ll say this:


    What they did beats doing nothing, which is too often what we read about in the news. So let’s have some appreciation here. Also for Ms. Spears’ nonjudgemental article, good show!

    In this case, all’s well that ends well (as long as there are no legal repercussions).

    I hope that they get a good “after action review” and consider all that could have gone tactically and legally wrong.

    “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller


  2. I commented on Nov. 10th at 12:31pm, and it is now 5:05pm. My post is still “awaiting moderation.” Yet “Anonymous” posted the single word “burglars” at 2:04pm with no trouble.

    A couple weeks ago one of my comments took an entire week to be approved, with the time noted reflecting my sending the message. Why didn’t the time reflect the entire week lost to “moderation?” No one could see it for a week!

    What’s going on here?

    What am I doing wrong?

    My comment on another story I posted today is also awaiting “moderation.” I posted that one first. My comments are not obscene or anything objectionable. What needs to be “moderated” here?


  3. That’s a great way to get killed. Vigilantism is bad.

  4. Finally! I guess I was approved.

    David, it’s not as easy to remain so neutral when you think you’re hot on the trail of some crooks who just ripped you off. Yes, it may seem stupid to you but their actions may have gotten some serial burglars caught. Burglars who committed a “hot” burglary (people were home at the time of the break in) are generally considered more dangerous than normal.

    Vigilantism? Maybe, but I see it more of a “reaction” to an immediate event. It’s not like they planned it out after a few more hours and then went hunting criminals.

    Now consider this:

    What if your place would have been next?


  5. student living on 17th

    “Wilbur and Stuck were both arrested and charged with one count of burglary that night. Both cases were dismissed in Franklin County Municipal Court and both were listed as closed as of Sunday afternoon, according to a FCMC website search. ”
    ??? This is why inner city thugs are all around our apartments.

  6. Lazy Franklin County prosecutors typical of you.

  7. Robbed on Woodruff

    As someone who was robbed and never caught the perps, this is satisfying for ME to read, let alone those guys. Well done for taking action. And as for these guys getting their charges dropped, Im not even surprised…

  8. More surveillance!!!!!

    First off, bravo to these guys. Anyone of us can say oh I’d just call the cops and lock myself in my room but just as they said, their adrenaline kicked in!!
    Ever since I had my house robbed last December, I have since moved into a place with my boyfriend. I felt Uncomfortable the rest of that lease. No one should have their belongings stolen, especially college students who do not have the money to replace those items. My place was broken into while the entire house was locked up by the way.
    This is a SERIOUS problem off campus that seems to only be getting worse.
    Columbus PD, get some undercover cops to walk around the off campus areas. ESPECIALLY during holiday breaks.
    Also, why were they released????? This is extremely disturbing.
    I do not even answer the door when my boyfriend is not here. I am too afraid!

  9. I lived in a house on Norwich Avenue and a townhouse on East Norwich for a total of 3 years and although I never experienced a break in or robbery, some of my neighbors did.
    Congratulations for these guys for hunting down and getting these low-life punks who victimize our neighborhoods and residents. I wish we could round more of them up and bring them to justice.

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