BUCKINGHAM >> A Yardley man has been charged in connection with a string of vehicle break-ins that took place in 2020 across 13 municipalities in Bucks County and 10 in New Jersey.
Keith Johnson, 32, was arrested March 5 and charged with burglary, theft, Receiving Stolen Property, and related crimes.
Police suspect Johnson of committing more than 1,000 vehicle break-ins last year on both sides of the Delaware River.
In mid-February 2020 Buckingham Township began to experience overnight thefts from unlocked vehicles with several occurring between 3 and 6 am. Surveillance video showed a suspect wearing a “gaiter”-type mask, dark sweatpants, gloves and carrying a satchel.
Over the ensuing months, police said numerous Bucks County municipalities experienced the same type of thefts with the same actor being caught on surveillance video.
The Newtown Township Police Department received numerous reports of thefts from vehicles that had occurred during the early morning hours on Feb. 28, 2020.
Through surveillance video, Newtown Township Police determined that the same individual was involved in more than 15 reported thefts from that night and had entered countless unlocked vehicles. A follow-up investigation revealed that the same individual had been stealing from unlocked vehicles dating back to as early as September of 2019.
The suspect returned to Newtown Township during the early morning hours of April 17 and August 12 and both Wrightstown and Newtown Townships on August 24. During the investigation, it was learned that the suspect would often travel long distances on foot and avoid detection by both residents and law enforcement.
Information on the thefts was shared with police departments in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. And it was found that 10 municipalities in New Jersey had experienced similar overnight thefts from vehicles.
A cooperative effort between several agencies was formed with law enforcement from both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. State, county and local agencies worked together in attempting to identify the suspect(s) from the incidents. And countless hours were invested in stopping the crimes, police said.
The thefts continued through August 2020 in 13 Bucks County municipalities. Some of the cars were parked in garages, where the suspect entered the dwellings with intent to access the vehicles parked inside.
In September, the Bucks County District Attorney’s office issued a press release containing a photo of the suspect. The thefts stopped occurring in Bucks County, but resumed in New Jersey.
In October members of the task force found that a stolen credit card from New Jersey was used in a convenience store in Pennsylvania.
In January of this year the investigation identified Johnson as a possible suspect. Information was developed that led to the execution of two search warrants, the last one being at Johnson’s residence in Yardley.
Police said currency, handbags, gift cards and dozens of other pieces of property were seized as a result of the search warrant.
The investigation is continuing as more information is developed.
Johnson’s arrest was made possible by the cooperation of many law enforcement agencies, including but not limited to: the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, the Robbinsville, NJ, Police Department, the Newtown Township Police Department, the Central Bucks Regional Police Department, the Yardley Borough Police Department, the Lower Makefield Police Department and the Bedminster Township Police Department.
Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Buckingham Township Detective Tim Johnson at 215-794-8813.