Officers recognized in apprehension of Alpha burglary suspects

Margi Washburn, Kewanee Star Courier
Henry County Sheriff Kerry Loncka, center, presents letters of commendation to officers Sgt. Josh Verscheure, left, and Deputy Dave Smutzer, right, for their efforts in apprehending suspects in connection with the July 4 burglary of the AlWood Pharmacy.

It was deja vu all over again, at least for Henry County deputy Dave Smutzer.

Deputy Smutzer, along with Sergeant Josh Verscheure, were presented with commendations for bravery and professionalism for their apprehension of two pharmacy burglary suspects on July 4.

Sheriff Kerry Loncka told the County Board that the officers’ extraordinary work deserved to be recognized.

Loncka explained last winter or early spring the AlWood Pharmacy in Alpha was burglarized, and $14,000 worth of medications were stolen. At the time investigators told the owners that they could help the department by putting in a security video camera and alarm system and, Loncka said, they did. The owners also, at the recommendation of the officers, put their medications in a safe.

In the early-morning hours of July 4 the same burglars came back and hit the pharmacy again. This time, the suspects did not get any medication but they were caught on video.

“We had a pretty good view of their car and our two officers here were working that night and went down to the area, and though they were unable to locate anyone they did view the video,” said Loncka.

“Two hours after they left the scene they were still looking around the area and while sitting in Woodhull during the night, the suspects’ car comes around near the Catholic church.”

The officers tried to stop the car but the driver fled, going at high speeds through Henry and Rock Island counties. “It’s scary when you’re going through another county because you don’t know where you are,” said Loncka, “but they continued to chase them all the way over the river and into Iowa.”

At about that time the suspects’ car overheated and broke down. A woman stayed in the car but the male driver took off on foot. The officers chased him down, they got into a struggle and he tried to disarm them. “They were in the dark, under the I-80 bridge and in a ditch chasing this guy,” said Loncka. “That takes some bravery.”

The capture of the suspect, Roman Lloyd of Davenport, Iowa, subsequently led to many other agencies clearing up pharmacy burglaries in Iowa and Illinois. In checking with other agencies and officers, Loncka said there haven’t been any more pharmacy burglaries. The female suspect’s name has not yet been released.