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Off-duty dispatcher helps nab suspected Home Depot shoplifters

An off-duty emergency dispatcher says he was apparently in the right place at the right time tonight when two men tried to pull off a heist of drills from Home Depot on Veterans Memorial Drive.

Nate Fix, who is also a Town of Batavia Fire 1st assistant chief and part of the private security detail at Darien Lake on concert nights, said his wife, Kayte, asked him to drive her up to Home Depot to get a knob for a kitchen cabinet at about 7:30 p.m.

While waiting, Fix called the dispatch center with a work-related question. While on the phone he noticed a man run from the big double glass doors of Home Depot carrying several drills.

"I knew something wasn't right because I could see the lights flashing of the alarms going off," Fix said. "The car started rolling before the guy even jumped in it."

Fix immediately informed dispatchers about what he just observed and deputies were immediately summoned to the area.

Fix followed the car and he figures the driver knew he was being followed when the sedan pulled into the parking lot of Office Max, so Fix drove into the car wash just down the road and waited and watched.

Soon, the white sedan zoomed past his location, he said, again heading south on Veterans, so Fix pulled out behind the sedan.

The car pulled into the B.J.'s parking lot and drove behind the building. Fix waited in the parking lot for the car to reemerge.

"The car races past me, races around Applebee's and then races toward Lewiston," Fix said.

By then, multiple patrol units had arrived on scene and blocked the intersection.

According to Fix, the car stopped and the passenger ran from the vehicle, throwing the drills to the ground.

After a short foot pursuit, the suspect was apprehended by a deputy in the area of Arena Parkway.

"I guess all those nights working security at Darien Lake paid off," Fix said. "I stayed calm, though I may have sounded excited on the phone, and reported what I saw and kept the suspect vehicle in sight."

The names of the suspects have not yet been released.

UPDATE 11:14 p.m.: Arrested was Steven Michael Merriam, 25, of South Main Street, Churchville. He is charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, 5th. A search of the sedan uncovered other alleged stolen property from a Lowe's store in Amherst.

Doug Yeomans
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I'd have loved to be able to hear the conversation inside that car. They'd owe the potty mouth jar a whole lot of money.

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