mug Bruce Carpenter

Bruce Carpenter

By Kelly Foreman / Staff Writer

A burglary suspect was caught red handed by Corbin Chamber Director Bruce Carpenter in the early hours of Saturday morning.

While stopping in at his office on Depot Street to pick up some keys, Carpenter said he noticed a suspicious person carrying a guitar near the railroad tracks.

“I said to my wife, ‘he’s broken into Gibson’s music,’” Carpenter said. “Why else would anyone be walking by the railroad at 1 a.m. with a guitar?”

Carpenter drove closer to the suspect, Erwin Daralon Smith, 48, of Corbin, and noticed the sales tags on the guitar. After calling the police, Carpenter said dispatchers told him they had just received a call of an activated alarm at the music store on Main Street.

Corbin Police Patrolmen Rick Baker, James Miller and K-9 Officer Glenn Taylor responded to the scene. Smith saw Carpenter and attempted to flee toward the former Poynters Plumbing building, Taylor said in a press release.

Carpenter said Smith laid the guitar in the grass and was trying to crawl under a fence in an attempt to escape. Baker and Miller caught Smith and placed him under arrest. Carpenter was able to identify Smith and the Washburn guitar, valued at $600, where Smith allegedly dropped it in the grass.

Gibson’s Music Owner Betty Comer said she had seen Smith in the store prior to the break in.

“I didn’t really know him, but I knew his face,” she said. “When I saw that re-run of him breaking in my store, it made me angry. He was standing there with a brick, banging in my door.”

Comer said she was very appreciative of Carpenter, not only for helping to apprehend the alleged burglar, but also for assisting her in cleaning up the mess left by the break-in.

“I’m very grateful for all his help,” Comer said. “It was just really good that he happened to be there at the right time. I just wish people would quit breaking into my store.”

In 37 years of business, Comer said her store has been burglarized more than a dozen times.

“People have told me I ought to put bars up, but I hate to do that,” Comer said. It’s disheartening to work like a dog and have people just come and take your stuff. I’m getting tired of it.”

Smith was charged with third-degree burglary, theft by unlawful taking over $300, first-degree criminal mischief, two counts of third-degree criminal trespassing, alcohol intoxication and first-degree fleeing and evading on foot. He was lodged in the Whitley County Jail.

Kelly Foreman can be reached at kforeman@thetimestribune.com.

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