Covert Township man thwarts repeat break-in attempt

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COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. – With nearly two decades of active military service, John Scott is the perfect person to protect a home from a potential break-in. And that’s exactly what he did Sunday in Van Buren County. He caught a burglar in the act and held him for police.

John and his family were enjoying their Sunday afternoon, when they got a call from his wife Jennifer’s mother. She told them that, for the second time that day, the nearby home of John's brother-in-law Jeff had been broken into. Several items were missing.

“I’m thinking in the back of my mind, the guy's already been over there a couple times, ripping him off,” said John, “and I know how much stuff Jeff has inside his house, so I’m thinking, Maybe he’s coming back a third time.”

John grabbed his wife and two of his firearms and met his mother-in-law at Jeff's home. No more than 20 minutes after they arrived, John saw a man in a baseball cap and wearing black gloves walking up the long driveway.

So he sat, and he waited.

“I was sitting in a chair there and had both my guns out, and lo and behold, this guy starts walking up,” said John. “[He] steps through the door while I have my .45 pistol pointed at him.”

Startled, the burglar ran from the house towards the woods.  chased after him, firing several warning shots around the burglar to try to slow him down.

Jennifer was upstairs and said hearing the shots a terrible moment of unknowing for her. “We didn’t know if it was safe for us to come downstairs, we didn’t know if my husband was shot, we didn’t know how many people were there and whether they had guns or anything,” said Jennifer. “We were kind of freaked out. Didn’t know what to do.”

John eventually caught up with the suspect and subdued him while a neighbor came over and helped. The two hog-tied the suspect with his own shoe laces, and watched him until police arrived.

Authorities have yet to publicly identify the suspect. Online police records show Scott Mabrey, 41, was arrested Sunday by Covert Township police and faces felony robbery and larceny charges. In speaking with John and Jennifer Scott, FOX 17 also learned that Mabrey was a coworker of John’s brother-in-law, meaning Mabrey would have had knowledge of that Jeff was out of town.

Police continue to search for two more suspects involved in the break-ins. Their escape prompted a brief manhunt Sunday that used K-9 units, SWAT teams, and helicopter and drone units from surrounding departments in addition to the Michigan State Police.

Mabrey has a long criminal history dating as far back as 1991, including convictions on larceny, felony destruction of personal property, operating while intoxicated, and felony possession of a controlled substance.

Scott only suffered scratches and bruises in the struggle and a bite mark.

John served 18 years of active duty and is currently a member of the National Guard. He’s spent time training troops in infantry combat.

He says since the arrest, all of the stolen items from Jeff’s home have been recovered, and, while the search for the remaining two suspects continues, John and Jennifer are just happy they were able to put at least one behind bars.

“For me to be able to do that,” said John, “to stop him and send him back to prison, I’m pretty stoked about it. He definitely picked the wrong house, and we reminded him of that after we got him.”

“I’m relieved,” said Jennifer about John, "thankful that he was able to show the self-control that he did and handle the situation like he was trained to do.”

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