Construction crew turns crime fighters

 Photo courtesy Victor Powell
Photo courtesy Victor Powell (KTUU)
Published: Oct. 31, 2017 at 4:40 PM AKDT
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Victor Powell and his brother Bernard are twins, and the name of their construction company is Twins Home Improvements. Recently, the brothers and their employees went from being construction workers to crime fighters.

Victor Powell says about a week ago, a crew leader arrived at a home they were renovating on Oxford Drive in Anchorage, and there was a large collection of expensive tools stored in the garage.

"We opened the garage to get a ladder," said crew leader Mike Oswald. "And there was guy parked in his (pick-up) truck, like passed out, and he had all of our tools loaded up in there."

Oswald and several other employees, who were working nearby, quickly blocked the man's purple pick-up truck, which was parked in the garage, with their vehicles.

"I think he was so shocked that he wasn't even able to comprehend what was going on," said Oswald. "And then he panicked."

In video shot by the construction crew, the man's truck can be seen spinning its tires as the driver tries to escape.

"From the guy's perspective, we had 30 guys, and all of them were pretty big," said Victor Powell. "And one of the crew leads, Chris – he's 300-pounds of muscle – and of course the guy was pretty intimidated at that point."

The workers called police, who Powell said arrived within minutes.

Anchorage Police spokesperson Renee Oistad wrote in an email Tuesday, "29-year-old Daniel P. Winters JR was sitting in the truck’s driver’s seat. Winters exited upon officers’ request and he was placed into handcuffs. Winters was uncooperative when the arresting officer was asking questions. Winters was ultimately remanded at the Anchorage Jail and charged with Burglary I and Theft II."

"We all wanted to go get some kind of justice," Powell said. "There was no vigilantism stuff going, but it kind of put the face to the crimes that are going around there."

Powell says this isn't the first work site theft his company has faced. He says they tried to secure a five-plex they were working on recently in Mountain View.

"We actually had a security system that we bought from Costco the day before," Powell said. "We had it in the property and we were going to install it so we could feel safe with our tools and stuff. It got stolen. They broke into the unit and stole the security system, a $600 security system."

As for the suspect who allegedly tried to steal tools from the work site on Oxford Drive, Powell said, "Everyone has a story, I don't know what his story is."

Powell believes much of the crime we're seeing is a symptom of hard economic times, and he wonders if that applies to the man who was arrested for allegedly trying to steal his tools.

"We look at these kinds of criminals as these negative people that are putting a drain on society," Powell said. "But what are we doing to really help them? And that's always the kind of question I ask myself is 'How are we helping these people?' I don't know. They're not going to get out of there, unless they're pushed in the right direction."

APD advised caution if you observe a crime in progress.

"There is an inherent risk anytime someone confronts an unknown individual, especially if that individual is in the act of committing a crime," Oistad wrote. "The safest option, when someone sees a crime commencing, is for that witness to call the police."

Powell said his crew was able to determine quickly that the man in the garage was not armed with anything more than a cell phone.