Serial burglary suspect captured after Canal Fulton police place GPS tracking device on car

Posted at 1:10 PM, Mar 06, 2017

Canal Fulton police placed a GPS device on the car of a suspected serial burglar, enabling officers to track the man down and bring him into custody.

The name of the suspect hasn't been released, but Police Chief Doug Swartz said charges are expected to be filed against the man later this week in connection with a rash of business break-ins over the past few months.

Swartz said a search warrant was obtained after the man was developed as a suspect. The tracking device was on his vehicle for a couple of weeks.

"It helped to enhance the investigation and it helped track his movements," Swartz said.

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The chief declined to elaborate further on the GPS device that was used because he didn't want to reveal more information about surveillance tactics.

Last Friday morning, someone attempted to break into Paolino's Sports Pub and Grub and Margaritas Mexican Grill and Cantina on Locust Street South.

Surveillance video from Margaritas showed a man trying to break into a back door. It appeared he was using a crow bar. The business had money stolen in two previous break-ins, but added a surveillance system before Friday's attempted burglary.

"He looked right at the video camera and he was kind of confused at to why he couldn't get into it again," said Madison White, an employee of the restaurant.

Police told News 5 that the tracking device was turned on and the suspect was taken into custody after a traffic stop.

Later that day, the Canal Fulton Police Department updated the case on its Facebook page.

"We can confirm, and are happy to report, that the person taken into custody is responsible for other breaking and entering reports filed recently in the downtown business district over a span of a few months," Swartz wrote in the post.

Investigators said the man confessed to seven to 10 similar crimes.

In one recent case, a safe with $590 inside of it was stolen from a coffee shop. Money was also taken after break-ins to a candy store and a second hand shop.

Swartz said the suspect is not in jail while investigators continue to build their case. The chief told News 5 he "confident the man would cooperate."

Police procedure expert Tim Dimoff told News 5 that hiding a tracking device on a car requires either permission from the owner or a search warrant signed by a judge.

"Basically, they would need information from the police officer, probably cause, that the vehicle is being used in a criminal manner," Dimoff said. "It is guarded by legal documentation and process. It isn't something that's just used anytime police want to use it."