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Stafford man charged after homeowner’s fly-by

BY LINDLEY ESTES

 David Zehntner was flying his personal plane from North Carolina over his home in Labelle, Fla., when he spotted a man   peering into it a window of the house.

He lowered his aircraft’s altitude and watched as the man attached Zehntner’s red trailer to a silver pickup truck and drove away.

He followed the pickup  until he was sure of the truck’s route and then landed at an airport in Labelle to phone police.

A Stafford County man,  Gary Robert Haines, 59,  and the trailer were apprehended at a traffic stop in adjacent Charlotte County.

 Zehntner traveled there and reclaim his trailer,  the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Police at the scene searched Haines’ vehicle and found a rifle with one bullet in the chamber and ammunition on the floorboard of the truck, the report states.

Detective John Sadler arrived to question Haines, but he “refused to respond,” the agency reported.

Haines, who was charged with grand theft, was released from the Charlotte County Jail on Monday on a $2,500 bond.

Florida authorities said the investigation into the theft and the weapon are ongoing.

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Bob Carpenter said he has never heard of a homeowner catching a thief from the air, but his office’s helicopter has caught thieves in the progress of a crime in the county before.

Zehntner could not be reached for comment, but he told ABC News in an interview that “it was quite an experience. Not sure it’s something I’d want to do every day, but the outcome is pleasing. It was worth it.”

Lindley Estes:  540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

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