Suspects burglarize men’s soccer players’ apartment
The 200 Small Road apartment of three Syracuse University students was burglarized Sept. 17. After a lengthy chase, the suspects were caught and the Syracuse Police Department is now handling the suspects.
Pete Rowley, one of the victims and a forward on the SU men’s soccer team, said Syracuse police told him the same suspects were responsible for at least 30 other robberies and burglaries of South Campus apartments in the last year.
Capt. Drew Buske of Public Safety confirmed that the suspects are believed to have been involved in other South Campus burglaries.
Ryan Teager, another victim and defender on the team, said at about 2:30 a.m. the suspects entered his room, turned the lights on and off and then left. He said he initially thought he was dreaming, but hearing noises coming from the living room forced him out of bed.
‘I heard some people screwing around with our (game system) wires in our living room,’ he said. ‘I grabbed a golf club, went around the corner and sure enough I saw some guys jumping out the window with our PS2 and N64.’
It appeared the suspects had started to steal the TV before they heard Teager stirring in his room, Rowley said.
Rowley said he and Brad Peetoom, the third victim and co-captain for the team, woke up after hearing Teager scream out the door. They threw on clothes and left the apartment, hoping to catch the suspects and have their belongings returned.
Teager said he and Peetoom followed the trail the burglars created, exiting their apartment through the front door.
They spotted who they believed to be the suspects approximately 500 yards away on East Colvin Street, Teager said. When the soccer players started running toward them, the men they suspected started running away, which the victims thought proved the men were guilty of something.
Rowley ran through backyards by himself, trying to cut corners while he called the Syracuse police.
‘(The 911 operator) told me to stop chasing them,’ he said. ‘That angered me, so I hung up. They said they could have weapons and all that, but at the time it was just like, ‘We’re getting our stuff back.”
There is some confusion of who caught the suspects, where and when they were caught.
Rowley said he eventually cornered three of the four burglars, pinned them against a car, put his hands in the air and said he would not hurt them; they just wanted their systems back. Peetoom and Teager caught up soon after.
A Public Safety officer was the one who found one of the suspects riding a bike around Lancaster Avenue, Buske said. The suspect matched the students’ description, so he stopped him.
Once stopped, the suspect was questioned and led the Syracuse police to the other three suspects, Buske said.
Other than the golf club Teager carried, none of the soccer players possessed any weapons.
Even so, Rowley said, ‘One kid said he’d f—ing stab me.’
The threat from the suspect evoked chills, in retrospect, when Syracuse police officers told the players all four of the burglars had knives on them, Rowley said.
‘Them threatening to stab us was a real threat, which is not a good feeling … especially when we have one of the best teams in the country coming to play us hours later,’ he said.
The suspects eventually decided to give back the game systems, knowing they would not be able to outrun their athletic captors, Rowley said.
‘The irony is, (my roommates) make fun of me for sleeping with a golf club (in my room),’ Teager said. ‘But in the end, that’s what (the suspects) were most afraid of. That’s what gave us the control.’
‘And me threatening their lives,’ Rowley added.
The suspects led the players to a house on the corner of East Colvin Street and Lancaster Avenue and uncovered their belongings in bushes behind the house. Along with the N64, PS2 and the games for the systems, Rowley said they saw wallets, DVDs and other stolen possessions.
After returning their game systems to the soccer players, the suspects left the scene on bicycles, Rowley said.
The police arrived about one to two minutes later and Rowley, Peetoom and Teager all climbed in separate police cars, trying to pinpoint the suspects, they said.
Rowley and Peetoom were able to identify one of the burglars, who revealed the identities of the other three, Rowley said.
Teager returned home and Rowley and Peetoom stayed with the police officers for a formal identification, and to fill out police reports, Rowley said.
They arrived back at their apartment at about 6 a.m. and then joined the rest of their teammates for a pre-game team breakfast at 10 a.m. At this point, they disclosed the events of the early morning to their head coach Dean Foti.
‘Obviously we’re glad that everybody’s OK,’ Foti said. ‘It affects them because they don’t get sleep and it wrecks their concentration. (It was) just another distraction. The night before a big game they’re filling out a police report when they should be getting rest.’
Rowley admitted he struggled to focus during the contest, citing his inability to ‘get his mind off (the burglary)’ during Foti’s halftime speech, at which point the Orange was losing, 1-0.
Teager said he and his roommates have been more cautious in locking the doors at night since the burglary, but he commends Public Safety for boosting patrol in the area.
‘It’s just one of those things you never think will happen to you,’ he said. ‘I mean, I was happy how we reacted. We looked out for each other. In retrospect it might have been foolish, but it was the best we could do.’
News editor Laura Van Wert contributed to this report.
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