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Burglar's luck worth about a plug nickel, police say

Originally ran here as:
"Burglar's luck worth about a plug nickel, Fulton police say"
by Craig Schneider. Staff Writer
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
November 28, 2001

Atlanta, Georgia -- Derrick Van's fortunes as a burglar turned on a dime Tuesday, police said.

Van, 36, of Smyrna was burglarizing a home on Thaxton Road in south Fulton County, police said. He'd used a screwdriver to open a carport window about 11 a.m., and quickly carried out a television to his burgundy Cadillac, police said.

Then he walked into a rear bedroom and accidentally dropped some coins on the floor, said Fulton County police spokeswoman Wenda Phifer. Bending down to pick them up, he saw a man hiding under the bed.

A frightened Christopher Daniel, 27, who lives there with his parents, held a phone in one hand, and on the line was the Police Department.

In the other hand, Daniel held a .357 Magnum, among the most powerful handguns.

Daniel fired five shots, striking Van three times, including the ankle, thigh, and groin, police said. Within minutes, police arrived to charge Van with burglary and take him to Grady Memorial Hospital. His wounds are not life-threatening, police said.

If Van hadn't dropped the coins, he well might have made a clean getaway, said Phifer.

"He could have just walked out the door, because the guy under the bed was too scared to confront him," she said. The case remains under investigation, but police do not expect Daniel will face charges, said Phifer.

Another dramatic home invasion occurred late Monday evening when four men, posing as security workers, forced their way into a room at Homestead Studio Suites in Smyrna.

The men robbed the occupant at gunpoint and then stole his Mercedes, police said.

Soon after, Cobb County police spotted the car on I-285 and chased it onto Roswell Road, where police said the car crashed and the driver fired several shots at the officers before running away.

Police later arrested one man, Raheem T. Smith, 20, of Atlanta, but the other three remain at large.

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