Alleged thief sends police on foot chase through woods

bbashioum@demo-mo.comMarch 14, 2014 

A former Marine is in jail for sending police on a lengthy foot chase after allegedly robbing the Harrisonville Wal-Mart, 1700 Hwy. 291.

A Harrisonville police officer was called to Wal-Mart at 1:51 p.m. March 10 after a being contacted by store employees on a shoplifter they were watching and were planning to approach. The suspect was later identified as 32-year-old Brian Cronin, Harrisonville.

“They didn’t feel right about him, and thought he was going to run,” Harrisonville Lt. Mike Prindle said.

The employee’s hunch was correct.

Upon police approaching Cronin, the alleged thief bolted from the store and ran across 291 with his arms full of stolen items worth $288 into a heavily wooded area on the east side of the road behind Community Bank of Harrisonville and the electric company.

“He stole a bunch of stuff – a knife, miscellaneous tools, gloves, couple flashlights, some earbuds, and smaller things that he hid on his person,” Prindle said.

Prindle said the suspect proceeded to drop some of the items he was carrying as he was running, but held onto the long camping knife, similar to a machete-style weapon, as he ran.

More Harrisonville officers, along with Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputies and their K-9 unit, were called to assist with catching the suspect and securing the surrounding area of the search.

“That timber is huge. It was the first time that I had actually been down in there,” Prindle said.

After about a 35-40 minute search, law enforcement eventually found Cronin hiding behind a tree near the southeast corner of the Crestwood housing addition.

“Right in the middle of it, I happened to pull up at the right place and (saw) him take-off running again,” Prindle said. “I hollered on the radio and the guys eventually caught him.”

Prindle said the suspect was about 100 yards from the subdivision. “When he ran the second time, he ducked back in to try to hide behind the trees and one of the officers actually (saw) his feet sticking out,” Prindle said.

Upon locating the suspect, officers drew their guns at Cronin as they began to apprehend him. Cronin was taken into custody. In all, approximately 20 officers responded to the situation.

“I had great assistance from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office,” Prindle said. “There were at least eight or 10 of them, and by the time we got done, eight of us.”

After being taken into custody, Cronin was transported to the Cass County Jail, where he is being held on more than $20,000 in cash-only bonds and on multiple charges, including receiving stolen property of more than $500, first-degree property damage, resisting arrest, failure to comply, trespassing and multiple Harrisonville municipal warrants.

Harrisonville police say they dealt with Cronin at the same Wal-Mart store in September 2013 and were also able to get charges on him then. Cronin is accused of taking a pair of bolt cutters and cut through some security mechanisms within the electronic department at the store and stole items.

“He did several thousands of dollars of damage on that,” Prindle said.

He had already been given a warning to stay out of Wal-Mart prior to the March 10 incident. Missouri Case Net records indicate Cronin has had a number of run-ins with the law. According to personal Facebook page that is visible to the public, Cronin served with the U.S. Marines Infantry from July 2006-July 2010.

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