Alert Good Samaritan's tip leads Medina County investigators to possible serial burglars

Posted at 4:18 PM, Oct 30, 2017

A Westfield Township homeowner trusted his gut and phoned in a tip that led to the capture of three suspected serial home burglars.

Medina County investigators called it a classic case of how "See something, Say something" can make a huge difference in solving cases.

The Good Samaritan, who did not want his name used, said a stranger rang the doorbell to his Buffham Road home Thursday afternoon.

The man inquired about directions to Cleveland, but the resident who happened to grow up in the Cleveland area, was suspicious because the man seemed shifty and didn't appear to know exactly where he wanted to go.

The 59-year-old homeowner was convinced his home would have been broken into had he not been home.

"I knew they were up to no good. I can tell a con job. He had no business at my house and people waiting in the car," he said.

The resident walked outside with the man, watched him get into the passenger seat and noticed the vehicle was either a gold or silver SUV without a license plate on the back.

Next, he called the Medina County Sheriff's Department to describe the bizarre encounter with the stranger and the vehicle.

About 20 minutes later, Sgt. Chad Myers spotted an SUV that matched the description and pulled it over on Lake Road.

"Without that call, I would have still made that stop for the traffic violation," Sgt. Myers said. "Whether or not I would have gleaned enough in speaking with them to see, to uncover the crime, I don't know. I don't have a ton of confidence that I would have."

Sgt Myers noted the two men and a woman in the SUV had conflicting stories on where they were going and seemed to be "tripping over each other."

After talking with the trio, Myers confronted the driver Michael Blackburn, of Cleveland. Police body camera video captured the interaction.

"I was looking for this car. Can you tell my why I'd be looking for this car?" Myers asked. "I don't have any idea why," Blackburn responded.

A short time later, Myers asked, "Do you mind if I take a look in in it?" Blackburn said, "Yeah, I do kind of mind."

Myers got a search warrant and found more than 100 pieces of jewelry that had been stolen from a neighbor of the Good Samaritan. Investigators also recovered gaming equipment, believed to have been stolen from another location.

Blackburn, Frank Rogers, of Middleburg Heights, and Karen Bednarski, of Cleveland, were arrested and charged with burglary.

Myers said more charges could be coming because they are also suspects in as many as 15 similar home burglaries in Lake and Lorain Counties.

The homeowner, who followed his instincts, said he's glad his tip may have solved a rash of crimes.

"That was just my way of making a little stand," he said. "You just can't stand in the background your whole life. You got to stand up and do something."