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Business owner helps locate home invasion suspect

ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The watchful eye of a business owner helped police track down the man they say is responsible for an Allegan County home invasion.

Michigan State Police say a man came home Friday afternoon to find a stranger sitting at his kitchen table.

It happened on the 500 block of South Shore Drive, near Green Lake, outside of Wayland.

In an unusual twist, the suspect didn't seem worried at all, and even had a conversation with the homeowner before he ran off, stopping by a nearby business to call for a ride, who later helped police track her down.

"He came and sat down at the bar and asked for a beer," said Tommy Piccione, owner of Maria's Pizza.

It's a common request, but Piccione says after that, things were anything but normal.

"He says, 'You won't believe this, I am having the worst day; my cellphone died, and I lost my wallet,'" Piccione recalled.

He says he offered to help the young man, offering to take him to his car.

"I asked him where his car was, and he said 146th Avenue, but he came running from another direction," Piccione said.

Police say the 22-year-old man ran to Maria's after breaking into a home near Green Lake. When the owner returned, he found him reading the Bible and drinking chocolate milk.

"The homeowner showed up and found the suspect in the kitchen area of the residence, and confronted the suspect," said Trooper Mitch Dyer, with the Michigan State Police Wayland Post.

Police say the man went on to tell the homeowner that God sent him, and that the suspect was scared off when the homeowner called 9-1-1.

"He was here from 4:00 until almost 5; about 45 minutes or so," Piccione said.

The suspect made his way to Maria's while he waited for his girlfriend to pick him up, and instinct told the owner that something didn't add up.

"Through small talk, he was able to determine the story wasn't accurate," said Trooper Dyer.

It was when a State Police car went by to search a neighborhood that Piccione knew this was something more, and contacted them right away.

"He was able to provide a cellphone number and a description, and a route of travel," Dyer said.

It was Piccione's observations that helped police track the suspect to South Haven, where he was arrested.

State Police say the suspect's car was stuck in the mud, doing damage to a business in the area.

They were already on the lookout for him when the homeowner called 9-1-1.

The suspect has been arrested but has not yet been charged.

He's expected to be arraigned in Allegan County on Wednesday.