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Detroit business owner lures, arrests thief who stole $10k worth of tools

DETROIT – A Local 4 viewer helped a Detroit business owner who was robbed out of $10,000 worth of tools track down one of the suspects.

Dan Villarreal's business on the west side was robbed last week, and after a Local 4 story aired, a viewer contacted Villarreal telling him he knew one of the suspects. He said the suspect was a general contractor in the area.

"He was able to give his name, address and phone number. That was a key piece to the puzzle to add to the video of what we already had in place," Villarreal said.

Villarreal is rehabbing a home on the west side and called the contractor who the tipster identified as a suspect.

"I asked him for pricing and his knowledge of codes and if he really knew what he was doing," he said.

He said he began questioning him until he was positive the contractor was one of the suspects in the robbery. At that point, he made his own arrest by tying the suspect with a cord.

"I told him you robbed my business, we have it on camera and we are going to wait for police to arrive," he said.

He started talking to the guy and said the suspect was never hostile.

"He just sat down on the floor so we untied him right away and he said he wasn't going anywhere because he got caught. He confessed to everything," he said.

He said the suspect gave the name of his accomplice and where he sold the tools.

"He was very remorseful. We had a conversation about how he's affecting the whole community and I feel like I might be naive, but I feel like I got through to him," he said.

Villarreal said it took police two and a half hours to arrive to the scene to make the arrest. However, he is not angry at the police response time because he spoke to them at a community meeting last night.

"They got two cars at the 12th precinct for seven police officers so how can I be mad at them," he said.

Villarreal said he had the chance to speak further with the suspect while they waited for police and he learned more about his skill set. He said the suspect saw the previous Local 4 story and asked Villarreal if he would give him a job, and Villarreal said he told him that after he "takes care of his business," he would consider working with him.

He is grateful the community helped him track down one of the suspects.

The Detroit Police Department said they do not recommend citizens holding potential suspects until police arrive. They said they are the "professionals" and citizens arrest is not clearly defined so a similar act could be considered illegal activity. 

"I'm not saying everyone go solve your own crimes. I'm saying work together. We all gotta pull together. It's not just the police. We were able to solve this with channel 4, the tipsters, the community and the police," he said.

Villarreal went to the resale store to try to get his tools back, but was not able to, and the business owner asked him to leave. He said police are investigating.

Police confirmed they have the one suspect in custody. He's being held on separate charges, and Villarreal is planning to press charges in the robbery case. They are still looking for the second suspect.

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