SPRING VALLEY - An alert neighbor saw a man break into a house on Sept. 28 and immediately reported it to 911.
Shortly before 5 p.m. the witness saw a man break a window on the side of a house on the 14000 block of Spring Lane. The burglar then climbed in through the window frame.
Deputies arrived within six minutes and, after surrounding the perimeter, approached the house. They could hear someone inside. At the siding glass door to the back patio they saw a man, later identified as James Travis Ellis, 19, of Mayer, according to Dwight D'Evelyn, a spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office. The deputies detained Ellis and searched the house for other suspects but found no one else inside.
Deputies found several bottles of prescription drugs with the homeowners' names on the label when they searched Ellis, D'Evelyn said. They also found an electronic game console wrapped in a blanket on the couch. The intruder ransacked rooms inside the house, as well.
"He took quite a bit of medications," D'Evelyn said, including several strong painkillers. Drugs may have been the target of the break-in, he said.
Ellis told deputies that he ascertained that no one was at home, then used a rock to break the window and went inside to steal things, D'Evelyn said.
Officers took Ellis to the Yavapai County jail in Camp Verde and charged him with burglary, trespass, theft, criminal damage and possession of prescription drugs, D'Evelyn said. He remains in custody in lieu of $25,000 bond.
D'Evelyn praised the "attentive neighbor" who reported the crime as "the very essence of neighborhood watch." The neighbor called quickly, provided important information to the dispatcher and stayed on the phone until deputies arrived.
Currently, 35 neighborhood watches patrol parts of the county, including one in Spring Valley.
"Burglaries are a pretty big problem across the county," D'Evelyn said. "Property crime, mostly driven by drug users, is still a problem in this county. That's why we're starting these neighborhood watches."
D'Evelyn asks that residents call him at (928) 777-7441 if they are interested in starting a neighborhood watch program.