Armed Topeka burglar found hiding in McDonald’s bathroom, police say

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TOPEKA (KSNT) – A man has been jailed Wednesday after an attempted burglary that resulted in shots fired, according to the Topeka Police Department.

Benjamin Hardesty (Courtesy Photo/Shawnee County Department of Corrections)

Benjamin D. Hardesty, 42, faces charges including:

  • Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
  • Criminal possession of a weapon by a felon
  • Aggravated intimidation of a witness
  • Two counts of burgarly
  • Criminal Damage to property
  • Theft, and theft of a firearm

Police went early in the morning to a reported attempted burglary at West Ridge Animal Hospital, located at 2147 SW Westport Dr. TPD said before the officers could get there, Hardesty had already left the scene.

Police said they later got a call from someone who spotted Hardesty acting suspiciously near AAA Self-Storage. The person started following Hardesty, and when the burglary suspect noticed them, TPD said he pulled out a gun and shot at them.

The shooting didn’t hit anyone, according to TPD. The person following Hardesty gave a suspect description to police, and two detectives later spotted Hardesty running into the McDonald’s on Wanamaker Road.

Police said they went into the McDonald’s, where they found Hardesty hiding in the bathroom and arrested him. If prosecutors move forward with charges, this will be Hardesty’s fourth case going to trial for burglary and theft within the last two years.

Court records show he was previously arrested for three other incidents:

  • A Feb. 28, 2020 indictment saw Hardesty arrested for charges of felony burglary, theft and criminal damage to property. The charges were dismissed May 7, 2021 as part of a plea agreement for another case.
  • An April 9, 2020 arrest saw Hardesty facing charges of felony burglary and theft with a value between $1,500 and $25,000. A judge dismissed them Sept. 8, 2020, but court records don’t give details on why.
  • A Dec. 23, 2020 arrest saw Hardesty go to trial for felony burglary and misdemeanor theft and criminal damage to property. Hardesty pleaded guilty in this case, and a judge sentenced him on June 18, 2021, to 27 months in custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections, one year and 6 months in the Shawnee County Jail concurrently, and two years of supervised probation after release. The court also ordered Hardesty to pay back court costs, as well as $13,361.73 in restitution to two people.

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