A “prolific cat burglar” was arrested for six break-ins over the past three months and is expected to face charges for more than a dozen other burglaries around the South Shore, Suffolk County authorities said.
The string of home break-ins began in April in Lindenhurst, West Babylon, North Babylon and Deer Park, officials said. Investigators believe they have ended the burglary spree last week when a police sergeant spotted a suspicious man in North Lindenhurst around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday riding a bicycle and wearing a sweatshirt with the hood up, despite the balmy weather.
Sgt. Michael McDowell placed 22-year-old Errol Barham Jr. of Copiague under arrest and initially charged him with possessing burglary tools.
“A person’s home is his castle, nothing is more sacred than one’s home, especially when it’s occupied,” Acting Police Commissioner Ed Webber told reporters at a news conference in Hauppauge on Tuesday.
Barham was later charged with six counts of burglary, one count of attempted burglary, grand larceny and unlawful possession of marijuana. Barham pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned Monday and is being held in Suffolk County jail on $70,000 bail.
Investigators believe he is responsible for 15 other burglaries, and additional charges are expected, said District Attorney Thomas Spota. He said that Barham’s “modus operandi” fits the other break-ins.
Barham’s method of entry in almost every single case was exactly the same, Spota said. He allegedly sliced screen windows and then enter the homes. In some cases, he would enter through an unlocked door or window.
All the burglaries occurred between midnight and 4 a.m., and in all but one, the homeowners were asleep when the crimes were committed.
Authorities said he stole pocketbooks, cash, credit cards, jewelry, laptops and an iPad. Some items were recovered at a local pawnshop, while others were collected at the suspect’s Copiague home, police said.
“You can appreciate the fact that thankfully nobody was injured,” Spota said.
When he was arrested, police said they found a box cutter, pliers, screwdrivers and two pairs of gloves.
Police began noticing a spike in robberies in the communities around May. The Criminal Intelligence Bureau then determined a pattern was developing and established a task force in June.
In addition to performing stationary and roaming surveillance in the impacted communities, investigators would work during the times the burglaries were being committed.
Police also advised residents of the affected communities to be “extra vigilant in ensuring that all doors and windows are securely closed and home alarm systems activated.”