Police are trying to identify a suspected serial burglar who may be part of an organized group who've stolen jewelry, cash and guns from condos and houses in as many as 18 Northeast Ohio cities.
A home surveillance system inside a Bath Township condo gave detectives their first major clue since police started to connect the rash of break-ins.
Video from March 14 showed a tall man, wearing a multi-colored sweater, blue jacket and Khakis, breaking into a condo on Sparrow Pond Lane. Moments later, he's seen leaving the home after stealing valuable and sentimental jewelry.
The victim, Nancy (who didn't want her last name revealed), said her home security video system sent an alert to her phone, but the system was only a week old and she didn't realize initially her home was being burglarized.
When she came home from work, she found the front door smashed open.
"He's got a lot of nerve, just walking up to somebody's house and just kicking in the front door." she said. "I didn't think something like this happened where I live, but obviously it happens wherever anybody lives"
Bath Township Sgt. Steven Brown said similar break-ins over the last few months have been reported to police in Mentor, Brecksville, Bath Township, Amherst, Avon Lake, Westlake, Rocky River, Sagamore Hills, Aurora, Bainbridge, Twinsburg, Madison Village, Avon, Richfield, Montville Township, North Ridgeville, Willoughby and the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
Brown told newsnet5.com that the man, possibly posing as a salesman, goes to the front doors of the condos and knocks. If no one answers, he breaks in and ransacks master bedrooms.
"It's becoming very lucrative for them, so they're going in and haven't been caught. I think we're the first ones that have gotten video of this individual," Brown said.
Investigators are working on the theory that the caught on camera crook is part of a larger operation targeting mostly condos during daylight hours.
On Nancy's video, it appears the suspect talks on a cell phone shorty after the break-in.
"I feel like he's talking to somebody probably on the outside saying, 'I'm in now. Give me a couple of minutes and come by and pick me up,'" Nancy said.
Anyone with information on the suspect or the burglaries is asked to call the Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS. Tipsters can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $2,000.