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Justin Ford charged in rash of vehicle, shed break-ins in Womelsdorf

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 19 2013 04:11:59 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 19 2013 05:15:29 PM CDT

A major break has been made in a borough-wide crime spree that targeted dozens of people in Berks County.

WOMELSDORF, Pa. -

A major break has been made in a borough-wide crime spree that targeted dozens of people in Berks County.

For weeks, a brazen bandit prowled the streets of Womelsdorf and took anything in his path, said police.

Justin Ford was working a crafty scheme, but it was cracked and he was arrested Tuesday on several warrants, said police.

Ford, 20, is from the borough. Over the past four weeks, his sticky fingers stole at least $3,000 worth of goods from cars, porches and sheds, police said.

Bags upon bags of evidence now sit inside the Womelsdorf Police Department. Inside were power tools, jewelry and electronics.

"He was also using the cover of darkness and alleyways and breezeways to conceal himself while he did his crimes,"  said Ofc. Evan Reber, Womelsdorf Police Dept.

Reber, who led the investigation, said Ford's MO was working the streets during the hours of 1 a.m. to  5 a.m., and he preyed on unlocked vehicles. Ford reportedly hid his stash inside an abandoned house on East High Street, where his parents used to live, right across the street from the police station.

"That's kind of scary, people breaking into your stuff. You work hard for your stuff," said Alice Pachman, who lives in the borough.

It has been a major scare for a small quiet town. According to residents, Ford even stole from the car of a woman who lives inside a senior citizen apartment complex.

"You got to be afraid to sit out here too at night. You don't know what they're liable to do," said Gloria Seidel, who lives in the complex.

After weeks of worry, Ford was caught in the act and captured on surveillance, said police.

Reber posted his description in a local newspaper, and residents fought to take their borough back.

"The town of Womelsdorf came forth and gave us tips, and on those tips as well as some police work, we made an arrest," said Reber.

Ford admitted to most of the crimes and was committed to the Berks County Jail, said police.

It's a major break, but police said the investigation is far from over, and more arrests will be made.

The department is working to identify all the stolen property. Anyone who may have been a victim is asked to call the police department.