A man police detectives say could be behind more than 100 burglaries in the Phoenix area is behind bars.
Anthony Johnson, 52, was apprehended Sunday night following a joint burglary investigation involving Scottsdale and Paradise Valley police.
Police detectives said Johnson had just committed a burglary at a house and guest house on the same property in Scottsdale near 68 Street and Cactus at the time of his arrest. Officers said Johnson possessed stolen items tying him to the burglary from earlier in the evening. The homeowner had left the door unlocked when she went out for part of the evening.
Johnson came under the law enforcement microscope when he was arrested for trespassing in the backyard of a Scottsdale home in May. Police said before he was released, they placed GPS devices on his vehicles. Officers said that during five of the residential burglaries in Phoenix and Scottsdale between May 15 to July 28, Johnson's vehicle was parked in close proximity to the crime scenes.
He was interviewed and made comments that possibly linked him to previous burglaries in the area, police detectives said.
Authorities said the burglaries followed a pattern. They occurred during weekend evenings when the homeowners were out to dinner or at the movies and targeted jewelry, cash and firearms. Police nicknamed the crimes as the "dinnertime burglaries."
Detectives said Johnson would either enter the home through an unlocked door or by smashing a window, typically in the rear yard. He would do this while the homeowner was away, possibly for dinner or a movie, police said. It had many residents on edge.
"We have plans in place and go over them with our children," Paradise Valley resident Scott Carrick said.
"I think it's always good to have a little caution out there," Natalie Carrick said.
A search warrant served on Johnson's home recovered items from separate burglaries, including multiple guns.
During a police interview, Johnson said he was part of a Las Vegas burglary crew and that it was his job to case houses ahead of time for the rest of the crew. He said the crew had been burglarizing homes in the Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Phoenix area for the past couple of years.
Johnson said once he had cased homes, he would tell the crew which ones were good for the Las Vegas crew to target, according to police. In return, Johnson told officers he would get a portion of the money acquired from selling the stolen jewelry.
The houses targeted would be bigger homes with glass master bedroom doors. The crew would throw a rock, enter the home through the shattered window and take jewelry, cash and safes, Johnson said. Electronics were never taken even if they were in plain sight, police said.
Police served a search warrant on his apartment and found three guns in his closet that had been stolen during burglaries in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley.
Johnson was booked on burglary, theft and weapons charges.
The investigation is ongoing.
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