A Selden man broke into a home in the hamlet Monday but was chased and pinned down on the front lawn by the owner — an off-duty Nassau cop, Suffolk police said.
Mark Kellerman, 45, a police officer in Nassau's Third Precinct, said he grew up in the house on Catherine Drive and has checked on it regularly since his mother died earlier this summer and the home was put up for sale.
But when he pulled up to the house Monday afternoon, he noticed a bike in the hedges, a front window closed instead of three inches open to let in air, and the window screen gone.
It didn't take a trained mind to think that someone was inside, so Kellerman sneaked into his own property.
"I opened the storm door very quietly and I opened the inside door, and that's when I smelled marijuana," he said.
The intruder, identified by Suffolk police as Franklin Almonte, 25, was allegedly smoking weed in the kitchen and ran out the back door onto the back porch, with Kellerman right behind him.
Kellerman said he identified himself as a police officer before he struggled with Almonte on the porch. But gripping Almonte's arms, Kellerman said, he got the upper hand, then realized they were alone on the back porch and the gates to the back yard were locked.
"No one knows I'm back here," Kellerman recalled thinking at the time. "Let me get him out on the front lawn so if this goes bad, people can hear me,"
Kellerman marched Almonte through the house to the front lawn, where the Nassau cop said he held Almonte textbook-style — stomach down on the grass — and called 911 on his cell phone using an "authoritarian voice."
Suffolk Sixth Precinct officers arrived within minutes.
"Sarge, you got cuffs?" Kellerman asked the first officer at the scene, a sergeant.
Nothing appeared to have been taken in the house and no one was seriously injured, Kellerman said.
"He said he went in there to smoke weed. I said 'OK, that's not acceptable. Thank you for your honesty.' "
Almonte is expected to be arraigned Tuesday on charges of second-degree criminal trespass and fourth-degree criminal mischief.
Kellerman had little doubt he had the upper hand because he's been "around the block" as a 15-year veteran of the Nassau police department, assigned to a precinct covering high crime areas.
Even so, he said, it was more likely his late father, Walter Kellerman, a former Suffolk police officer in the Sixth Precinct, was looking after him.
" 'Atta boy,' " Kellerman said. "That's what he would have said."