CONTINUING COVERAGE: FLOODS OF 2016

Man Behind Bars for Allegedly Stealing Piggy Banks From Kids

COLLINS, Iowa -- Collins homeowner Jerry Courter was in disbelief when a neighbor called his phone while he was away last Friday evening, Aug. 12.

"They described the individual to me and described the vehicle he had and what he was carrying out of my house and I knew something was wrong at that point," said Courter.

Story County Deputy Chief Captain Barry Thomas said Courter's neighbors witnessed an unusual robbery in progress.

"The gentlemen had left a residence, people didn't think he was supposed to be in, carrying a piggy bank in his hands when he left the residence," said Deputy Chief Captain Thomas.

Courter is quick to note that it is not just any piggy bank.

"My little 3-year-old girl Bristol's piggy bank that she's had since the very first day she came home from the hospital was stolen," Courter said. "It was almost full of change and dollars she earned doing chores around the house. Also, my boy's piggy bank and his money box. I'm figuring between $300-$500."

Luckily, community awareness stepped in to help ease the blow.  Deputy Chief Thomas said, "Through gathering information with the people of the town of Collins, we were able to identify a suspect. It's key to know your neighbors and here in Iowa, we are blessed with that. In the majority of small towns, that's exactly what takes place."

Thirty-six-year-old Maxwell resident, Nicholas Heaberlin, was booked into Story County Jail Friday and charged with burglary in the third degree, theft in the fourth degree, and driving without a valid drivers license.

Deputy Chief Thomas said, "Burglary third degree is a class D felony and the theft-fourth is a serious misdemeanor, so both are fairly serious crimes."

Jerry's 3-year-old girl took it the hardest upon learning her piggy bank was shattered.

"I let her know it's gone," said Courter. "We aren't getting it back and she started crying on the floor and that was tough for me."

Through adversity, Courter says he's found much more faith in his community.

"It's a bad deal but it shows the little community of Collins, Iowa, really comes together and looks out for one another," Courter said.

As of Wednesday evening, Heaberlin was still in the Story County Jail on a $10,000 bond and has a preliminary hearing set for Aug. 23 in Story County.