A California resident interrupted a burglary in progress just before noon Thursday, according to police, and likely kept a weapon off the street.
Les Utley thinks the burglars broke in through the back door to the garage, then began ransacking his home. He doubts they had been inside long when he got home.
"Everything was on the floor," says Utley. "It was a mess, and I knew 'uh-oh, somebody was here'."
There were two burglars inside Utley’s home, and they had emptied his drawers and gone through his closets.
"They're probably looking for iPhones and computers and stuff. Well, guess what, I've got zero of them," Utley says. But what they did take was Utley's .22 rifle, which he bought back in 1967 when he got out of the Army.
"And he was running away with that, and that's the guy I went after," he says. "[I] Didn't want that to get on the street, you know." Utley is 71, and though he guesses the burglar with his gun was probably a teenager, Utley nearly caught him.
"He knew if he didn't drop that stuff, I was going to catch him, and so he just dropped it. And I took a dive at him and kissed the driveway and hurt myself a little bit but otherwise I'm alright," says Utley.
He recovered the gun, scared off the burglars and became a hero in the Concord neighborhood, where he lives.
"I think it's wonderful," says neighbor Diane Griego. "It's too bad he didn't do more than just chase."
Concord police also think the suspects targeted another house around the corner. The retired postal carrier just wishes he caught the guys. Now he's replacing doors and contemplating extra security.
"They got a few people burglar alarms around here. Maybe I'll have one, one of these days," says Utley.
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