CLIFTON HEIGHTS — An ordinary day turned into an extraordinary day for the chief of police who captured a brazen burglary suspect in record time. Chief Walter Senkow was in his vehicle when the burglary and a description of the alleged intruder were broadcast on the police band radio.
Sgt. Stephen Brown reported a resident of the 200 block of Walnut Street had just returned home shortly before 10:30 a.m. Friday and heard a noise.
“She saw a hand in the back doorway and saw a guy by the back door of her house,” Brown said, noting a neighbor and the victim provided a description.
“While we were responding Chief Senkow spotted a man fitting the description about four blocks away walking on East Baltimore Avenue,” Brown said. “The chief stopped, exited his vehicle and called out the suspect’s first name,” and called for back-up officers.
James Whinnery, 53, of the first block of North Highland Avenue, Lansdowne, was taken into custody without incident and jailed for criminal attempt to burglary and related offenses.
“He’s a career burglar,” Brown said of Whinnery, noting the suspect was on probation for break-ins eight years ago.
“I was out in the police car and knew a neighboring police department had expressed an interest in Whinnery for questioning on numerous unsolved burglaries since January,” Senkow said, noting he remembered Whinnery from incidents in 1998 involving burglaries in the borough and Springfield.”I was the arresting officer then,” Senkow said.
“I knew he was released from prison in November and fit the description. Police cars were heading toward Walnut Street, but I headed the other way because I knew he would be heading toward Lansdowne. I saw him in front of Rite-Aid. “I got out and said, ‘Jim, get down on the ground,’” Senkow said. “I only had a radio in my hand and called for backup because I don’t carry handcuffs.”Whinnery had a small cut on his right hand allegedly from breaking the glass in the back door of the residence.