This photo shows the getaway truck (left) boxed in by the Schanz Tire & Auto Supply truck (right) and sheriff cruiser (obscured). (Photo provided)

Employee trails thief after Otsego robbery

Ryan Lewis, Editor

As it turns out, the arrest two weekends ago of an adult male in the woods behind Meijer was the tail end of a robbery gone bad in Otsego.

Otsego police said that individual attempted to steal a rifle from Schanz Tire & Auto Supply the morning of Saturday, Nov. 16. When spotted by store employees, he dropped the item and escaped in a pickup truck with two others parked behind the business near the Ninth Street bridge.

Derek Schanz said his father, and the store’s owner, was the one who called out the would-be thief.

“He had walked around the store for awhile, but he waited until we were all busy,” Schanz said. He said they later sorted out that he eventually slipped into their back room, took a CVA .44 magnum rifle from their layaway rack, put it in a case and tried to leave with it..

“I was busy working, but Tim Schanz, my father, confronted him, and he tossed the case just as he got off the property,” Schanz said.

He couldn’t make out the license plate as they drove away, and that may have been the end of the story—but Schanz said the same truck drove past the shop a little while later while he was outside clearing his head.

“I hopped in our company truck and stayed with him,” he said, noting he called 911 at that time. “They turned into Walmart; that was about 10:30 a.m. I let them park and then I pulled up right behind them.”

He said at that distance he could make out the plate number through a tinted covering.

“I gave it to (dispatch) and they told me not to engage,” he said, so he waited.

A sheriff patrol car pulled up to block them in. Schanz said police took two suspects from the truck into custody as they exited Walmart a short time later. The individual who had attempted to steal the rifle apparently made it out another entrance.

Otsego Police Chief Gordon Konkle said he understood that the suspect made it to the Goodwill store to the east to change clothing and then eventually was spotted in the woods behind Meijer at approximately 11:45 a.m.

Schanz said they recovered the stolen rifle.

“I think I chased them because, well, this is my family’s business,” he said. “I’m so sick of people getting away with stuff like this.”

He said his father along with uncle Rick Schanz started the business in Gobles in 1968 and moved it to Otsego about 10 years later.

“It started as a tire shop and my dad and uncle were always hunters, so they sold bullets. That’s grown to where we’re now a full-blown sporting goods store, too.”

Konkle said it was fortuitous Derek Schanz had been able to find out where the truck went.

“It’s very likely they may have gotten away if he hadn’t,” Konkle said. “The only thing that would be better is if he’d have called sooner.”

Contact Ryan Lewis at or (269) 673-5534.





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