Weeks after authorities released surveillance images of a burglar who dropped into a series of stores to steal money, jewelry and even a gun, Montgomery County authorities announced 70 criminal counts against a Chester County man.
District Attorney Kevin Steele joined local police departments Thursday in announcing the arrest of Jose Vanegas in relation to five burglaries where the thief, in most cases, rappelled into the business.
"The joint investigation into the rooftop burglaries, which occurred Feb. 6 to March 5, 2017, revealed that Vanegas and a juvenile co-conspirator planned and executed the five burglaries, gaining entry most often from the roof," Steele said.
A burglar rappelled into the Lansdale Meats & Deli Market on N Broad Street in Lansdale through the building's roof vent using a rope on May 15.
Once inside, the suspect -- wearing a white head covering, red scarf and gloves to conceal his identity -- tried to pry open the office using a claw hammer but wound up smashing a hole in the store's office drywall, police said. The suspect stole $12,000 in cash and a handgun from the office, police said.
A week earlier, a thief ransacked a Costco in King of Prussia after rappelling from a 40-foot skylight. He made off with more than $82,000 worth of jewelry.
Vanegas is also suspected in heists at the Patel Food Market in Montgomery Township, the Cinco de Mayo Supermarket in Norristown and Norris Beer Deli in Norristown where more than $7,500 in cash and Guatemalan calling cards were taken, the DA's office said.
A judge arraigned Vanegas, 42, on 70 counts Wednesday including burglary, criminal trespass, conspiracy, corruption of minors, weapons charges and relation counts and sent him to jail on $99,000 bail, courts records said. No lawyer who could comment on Vanegas' behalf was listed on the court documents.
Authorities didn't reveal what clues helped them make the arrest.