Bail set at $25,000 for man accused of animal shelter burglaries

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Bail was set at $25,000 for a Texarkana, Ark., man accused of burglarizing a local animal shelter on multiple dates.

Steven James Owens, 53, aka “Tater Bug,” appeared Friday morning for an initial court appearance on two counts of commercial burglary before District Judge Wren Autrey. Autrey set bail for Owens at $25,000.

Owens is accused of burglarizing the shelter Dec. 29 and Oct. 4. Video surveillance from the most recent burglary led to Owens being identified as a suspect by Texarkana, Ark., Police Officer Michael Bryan, who allegedly recognized a still photo of him posted on social media which had been taken from the surveillance footage.

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A shelter employee called police to report the theft at about 11 a.m. Dec. 29, according to a probable cause affidavit. He discovered that a door inside an office was broken into and a small safe was missing.

The security footage showed a man wearing yellow overalls, a blue jacket and a blue hat enter the building through the dog kennels about 2:30 a.m. The man entered the office and attempted to break open the door to a closet containing a safe with his shoulder but was unable. The man left with a 100′ water hose valued at $136.

The man returned at approximately 6 a.m. and entered through the same kennel as earlier in the morning Dec. 29 but he was wearing different clothes including khaki pants, a blue jacket, an orange traffic vest and a yellow hat. The man was also carrying a pickaxe which he used to open the locked closet in the office and steal the safe.

He left with the safe in a black trash bag and a clear container containing $25. The safe contained $910 and $850 in donation checks.

When officers went to Owens’ residence in the 1500 block of Eugenia Street in Texarkana, Ark., they immediately noticed items which appeared to have come from the shelter. When Officer Bryan approached the house, he observed someone look out a window and then heard them running through the house.

Bryan also noticed clothing worn by the suspect on surveillance video. After obtaining a search warrant, police recovered clothing, 9 Lives brand cat food, Top Paw brand reflective dog coats, dog toys, red paw-shaped Christmas stockings with dog toys, fleece blankets, a dog harness, waterless cat shampoo and various brands of dog food in a green duffle bag.

In the Oct. 4 burglary, Owens allegedly went over a wall and entered the building through a dog door. Stolen in October were paper towels, toilet paper, dog food and Brillo pads, according to the affidavit. Two surveillance cameras were broken from the ceiling and taken. A donation box containing approximately $30 was stolen also.

If convicted, Owens faces five to 20 years on each count of commercial burglary.

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