Possible 'AC Bandit' Spotted, Eludes Police
Man seen acting suspiciously outside home with window air conditioner in Morris Township.
Police may have gotten their first glimpse of the so-called "AC Bandit" over the weekend.
According to Morris Township Police Capt. Rich Ferrone, Officer Victor Gallardo on Saturday was patrolling Burnham Road—where one of the burglaries occurred earlier this month—when he saw a male walking down a driveway close to a window air conditioning unit, which fit the pattern of four recent break-ins in Morris Township by the "AC Bandit."
The individual, described as black male in his 20s or 30s, fled before Gallardo drove up to the house to confront him at about 2:15 p.m., Ferrone said.
Ferrone said when Gallardo initially saw the male, he turned around to go back to the house, but by the time he got there the individual had escaped.
When the police met with residents and a neighborhood watch group a few weeks ago they told the community to be aware of an individual lingering by a house with a window air conditioning unit and to report any suspicious activity following several burglaries in the Washington Valley section of the township.
While the individual on Saturday was acting in a suspicious manner near an air conditioning unit, Ferrone said it's unknown whether it was the same person who has been stealing jewelry and electronics from homes.
"It's hard to tell," Ferrone said. "It definitely seems odd, but we can't place specifically if it's him or not."
At the neighborhood watch meeting, Patrolman Steve Summerer told the residents that the "AC Bandit" most likely carries a backback or duffle bag with him. Ferrone said Gallardo didn't recall seeing the individual on Saturday carrying anything.
The homeowner on Burnham Road told Gallardo that he was sleeping at the time of the incident, and no one should have been around his house, Ferrone said.
A home on Burnham Road was the last to be burglarized in the township following three other burglaries on Gaston Road, Whitehead Road and Picatinny Road. The most recent burglary believed to be connected to the "AC Bandit" was in Madison, where a laptop computer, iPad, sneakers and a T-shirt were stolen.
The incident on Saturday occurred on a weekend, which is when most of the burglary incidents have been taking place, Ferrone said.
Also at the scene on Saturday were the Morris Plains Police Department, Morristown Police Department and the Morris County Park Police who helped contain the area, Ferrone said. A K-9 Unit led a search in the woods behind the property, Ferrone added, but they were unable to find anything.
Last week, the Madison Police distributed a list with tips to prevent AC break-ins from happening, which includes adding a sliding window lock and attaching warning stickers.
Anyone who sees other suspicious activity or has information regarding the burglaries can contact the Morris Township Police Department at 973-539-0777 or the Madison Police Department at 973-593-3000.