Fairbanks bar owner nabs burglary suspect

Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks bar owner helped nab a suspected burglar Wednesday night in what he called a "textbook sting" right out of a TV show or movie.

On Wednesday morning, John Jackovich, who has owned the Big I bar for the past four years, discovered someone had pried the plywood covering off a hole on the south side of the bar. The hole, which leads to the basement, was the result of previous construction at the bar.

But rather than call police and report the break-in, Jackovich decided he was going to find out who was responsible. He carefully replaced the T-shirts the intruder had rummaged through so it would appear the burglary went unnoticed, and decided to set a trap.

He didn't want to concern his family about what he was planning, so he didn't tell them where he was going Wednesday night. He arrived at the Big I just after 11:30 p.m. with his .357 Smith & Wesson pistol, a gift from his late brother who died in a snowmachine accident.

"I'm not a big gun guy, and I probably haven't touched that gun in 10 years," he said Thursday afternoon in his office at the Big I "But everything I own is invested in this bar."

He told the bartender what he was planning, then headed to the empty second floor of the bar.

Jackovich put his jacket on the back of a chair, set down his gun and a cup of coffee, and waited beside an open window to see if the burglar would strike two nights in a row.

He didn't have to wait long.

Within five minutes of sitting down, he could see a man in a blue hoodie crawling out of the hole on the side of the building.

He grabbed the .357, ran down the stairs and headed outside to confront the burglar.

"I said, 'Come on out, I got a gun,'" Jackovich recounted. "Then I heard a voice saying, 'Don't shoot.'"

Jackovich pointed the gun at the suspect with one hand, and with the other, called Fairbanks police on his cell phone.

"The dispatcher said, 'Are you in danger?' and I said, no ma'am, but somebody needs to get over here real quick," Jackovich said.

When police arrived, they arrested Bradley Darrel Crossland, 37, of Fairbanks. He is being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center on charges of second-degree felony burglary and third-degree theft, a misdemeanor.

"The whole scene could have been a 30-minute show," Jackovich said. "But even 'Criminal Minds' is an hour."

When police searched the basement, they found nine bottles of alcohol in a black duffel bag. The bottles apparently had been taken from storage rooms the intruder gained access to through crevices that only an arm could fit through.

Jackovich is thankful for FPD's quick response Wednesday night, but he said he is ultimately disappointed in Crossland, whom he had previously hired do work around the bar.

"I'm heartbroken the guy bit the hand that fed him," he said.

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