MANSFIELD, Ohio — Four children, ranging in age from 5 to 15 years old, were apprehended by Mansfield police officers following a break-in at Mid-Ohio Antiques Mall on Sunday, according to Mansfield police.
An officer who was dispatched to 155 Cline Ave. in reference to a breaking and entering, saw multiple “small subjects attempting to flee from officers.”
According to the report, only one of the individuals was an “adult-size person” who ran to the rear of the business where he was apprehended.
Mansfield police said that person, a 15-year-old, was found in possession of a loaded firearm with an extended magazine, reported stolen out of Columbus.
A preliminary investigation revealed that the 15-year-old directed the three younger children, who ranged in age from 5 to 10 years old, as what to do during the incident.
"All the small juveniles were corralled and released to their guardian," the report said.
Shop owner Michael Augustine has been collecting items from auctions and estate sales for 33 years and over those three decades he said he’s dealt with about six break-ins, but the perpetrators were never as young as the ones this time around. He said the younger kids weren't even tall enough to trigger the shop's motion detector.
"It was devastating," said Augustine.
Augustine said some of the kids were in the shop earlier Sunday, and he said a neighbor's wife overheard them talking about coming back later. That neighbor later called police when he saw the kids breaking in.
“They were watching kind of keeping an eye out. And they called it in when they saw them busting out the window," said Augustine.
Augustine also said there was a break-in at the shop Saturday night. Someone got away with his cash register, which only had $8 inside. He doesn't know whether its connected to Sunday's break-in.
Monday, Augustine said a guardian of two of the kids brought them back to the store, made them return what they stole, and apologize. He said he doesn't have any hard feelings towards them.
“Oh, its alright. I just felt bad for them kids. They need some some help for sure. You know some direction," said Augustine. “They're too little to even think about what's going on really, they don't understand. They know they're in trouble. They're grounded."
Captain Shari Robertson said the case remains under investigation as the department looks further into the motive for their actions and why something like this occurred.
“I have been a police officer for over 27 years and have never seen a case like this during my career, where the youth involved were so young. Obviously, the loaded firearm is another very concerning factor,” Robertson said in an email to News 5.
Mansfield police said due to an ongoing investigation, no further information can be released at this time.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Richard Clapp at 419-755-9724.
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