Police have made a major break in a burglary spree in Berks and Montgomery counties.
Three men, who operated under a designed plan and targeted homes for the past six months, are now behind bars, said police.
Officials announced Friday the arrests of Michael Benner Jr., 28, and Joseph Samsel Jr., 25, both of Limerick Twp., Montgomery Co., and Philip Becker, 26, of Amity Twp., Berks Co.
The three men broke into at least 21 homes in Berks County and western Montgomery County from July 2012 to last month, said police.
According to investigators, their targets were homes set off the roadway, not easily visible.
"Their MO, basically, was to knock on the door. If nobody answered, they would go to the rear of the home, and forcibly enter the home through the rear," said Ofc. Matt Smith, Robeson Twp. Police Dept.
On Jan. 14, the men hit a home on Buck Hollow Road in Robeson Township and made off with $2,000 in jewelry and credit cards, said police.
"It's frightening, but I just never thought this would happen around here," said Susan Power, who lives down the street.
It wasn't just there. That same day, they were back in the township and forced their way into another home on Mountz Road, said police.
"I know since that happened in our neighborhood some people are now like no more keys in the car and locking their doors, which they didn't before," said Deb Saint, who lives across the street.
Over the course of six months, the men are said to have made off with more than $117,000 in jewelry, guns and electronics.
On at least three occasions, the homeowners caught Benner at their home, officials said. Each time, he'd ask for a person who didn't live there, then left in a blue Hyundai, which was used to trace Benner and Samsel.
A search warrant executed at Benner's home turned up stolen jewelry.
Now, as you can imagine, many are breathing a sigh of relief.
"For them to be able to get some items back and have closure, that's a good thing for them," said Smith.
The three men were arraigned Thursday in Montgomery County. Bail for Benner and Samsel was set at $50,000 each and Becker's at $10,000.
A preliminary hearing for all three defendants is set for Feb. 5.