November 22, 2014

Elyria
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Police arrest two suspects in break-ins

Two Cleveland men have been kicking down doors and taking jewelry, electronics and guns so they can buy heroin, say Erie County detectives — and local sheriff’s deputies think the same men are behind 10 Lorain County burglaries as well.

McKenzie
Simmons

The suspects could be responsible for two break-ins along Gifford and Gore-Orphanage roads in late October and eight more near Russia Road and state Route 113 since mid-November, Lorain County sheriff’s Capt. Richard Resendez said.

In some of those cases, items with a combined worth of more than $4,000 were taken, he said.

Donald J. McKenzie, 34, and Robert T. Simmons, 31, were charged Friday in Erie County with felony counts of burglary and possessing criminal tools.

Both also are wanted by Cuyahoga County authorities — McKenzie for a probation violation and Simmons for a drug law violation.

They were being held in the Erie County Jail with no bond until their arraignment Monday morning.

The two men are accused of trying to break into a family farmhouse about 11 a.m. Friday on Huron-Avery Road in Milan Township, Erie County sheriff’s Capt. Paul Sigsworth said.

The homeowner, Jason Rockwell, was down the road and was suspicious when a gold Pontiac Grand Am pulled into his driveway, Sigsworth said.

The men said they were  looking for some water to put in their radiator, he said. When Rockwell started asking questions, they got in the car and drove through the yard to escape.

Troopers from the Milan post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol tracked down McKenzie and Simmons on the Ohio Turnpike a few minutes later.

Sigsworth said the men could be tied to 11 burglaries in the past five months in the eastern part of Erie County.

All of them occurred on weekdays between 6:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. The culprits would stop at a random house and knock on the door.

“If someone answered, they would come up with a lame excuse and leave. If not, they would kick the door down,” Sigsworth said. “It’s not a real sophisticated plan.”

Both men are believed to be drug users, and one admitted to using heroin, he said. Investigators think McKenzie and Simmons were stealing things that could be quickly sold for drug money.

Resendez said two Lorain County detectives found what they believe is stolen jewelry, baseball cards and other miscellaneous items Friday night during a search of two Cleveland homes.

Burglary victims will be asked to identify the goods on Monday, he said.

Contact Jason Hawk at 329-7148 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.