Pastor helps thwart burglary; gets punched in the face

BARBARA COTTER Updated: December 25, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 25, 2012

A Colorado Springs youth pastor got punched in the face Christmas morning as he tried to thwart a burglary taking place at a neighbor's house.

"He's coming at me, and I'm thinking: 'Does he have a gun; does he have a gun?'" said Jim Stevens. "He clocked me in the face, and then he was gone."

The burglar was at large around 12:30 p.m., with Colorado Springs police and police dogs searching for him in the neighborhood around the 2500 block of East San Miguel Street, southwest of Palmer Park Boulevard and North Circle Drive.

Two women who were with the man were apprehended -- one of them with Stevens' help. He was able to pin her until police arrived.

"She told me she was pregnant," Stevens said.

The scene unfolded around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday when a neighbor saw movement inside the house and an unfamiliar Ford Taurus parked a few feet away. The neighbor knew the residents weren't home, so he called Stevens, who is youth pastor at Central Church of the Nazarene and works with one of the residents of the burglarized home. The church is near the house that was burglarized, and Stevens lives nearby.

Police Sgt. Tony Erickson said the man and one woman were inside the house, and a second woman was waiting outside. Stevens, who had called police, went over to the house and shut off the car, which had been left running. The woman who was outside ran away and was taken into custody minutes later.

As the man and woman inside the house came out with their arms full of belongings, they saw what was happening. The man "bum-rushed" Stevens, threw the stolen goods at him, struck him and ran off. Police tried to find him through footprints in the snow, but a neighbor who had shoveled earlier "ruined the tracks," said Sgt. Tony Erickson.

Stevens called the residents, who were "pretty hysterical," he said. It appears that the burglars dropped everything they had taken, but police weren't sure whether anything is missing. But the residents will still come home to a mess: The burglars kicked in the back door, broke a fence and ransacked the house, Erickson said.

"I think it's pretty low to do this on Christmas," Stevens said.

Erickson noted that police were "Johnny on the spot," arriving about two minutes after receiving the call, but he said much of the praise goes to the neighbors.

"Recent arrests in burglaries have been because of neighbors making a difference," he said.

"We've got to love on the neighbors today," Stevens said.

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