Police arrest man accused of being Rock Burglar - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

Police arrest man accused of being Rock Burglar

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Posted: Friday, May 27, 2011 4:26 pm | Updated: 5:49 pm, Fri May 27, 2011.

Authorities said Friday that they have arrested a man believed to be the elusive "Rock Burglar" who broke into nearly 400 houses in affluent Phoenix suburbs over the last 17 years.

Robert James Neese, 58, was arrested Friday at a south Phoenix restaurant after DNA evidence connected him to some of the burglaries, police said.

Authorities say the Rock Burglar's victims included former Vice President Dan Quayle and former Arizona Diamondbacks players Steve Finley and Mark Grace.

"I actually worried that someday I'd wind up retiring without this guy going to jail," said Paradise Valley police Cmdr. Alan Laitsch, who first noticed the trend in the break-ins dating back to 1993.

The Associated Press has requested an interview with Neese, who was being held in jail. It was unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Investigators say the Rock Burglar used rocks to break into homes through master bedroom or bathroom windows while the owners were away and never left the master suite. Most people keep their expensive jewelry in the bedroom and don't use motion-activated alarms there to avoid tripping the alarms themselves.

Around 2005, the burglar changed locations from Paradise Valley and Scottsdale and concentrated on Fountain Hills, beginning to break into homes by prying open their doors and leaving with loot stuffed in pillow cases, said Maricopa County sheriff's Lt. Dave Munley.

The sheriff's office provides police services for Fountain Hills.

In all, the Rock Burglar made off with $10 million in jewelry, cash and other loot over the years, investigators said.

Neese was charged with possession of burglary tools May 15, and after he was released from jail on that charge, police say DNA evidence was used to link Neese to the Rock Burglar's crimes.

It was not immediately known whether Neese has been charged with breaking into the homes of the former vice president and the ex-baseball players.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose office will prosecute Neese, said DNA evidence linked Neese to seven or eight burglaries that were part of a "John Doe" indictment that was handed down in 2005 when the burglar's identity wasn't known.

"We have the evidence to say that this suspect is the person that we indicted in that Joe Doe case," Montgomery said.

Munley said investigators hope to determine whether other people were working with Neese in committing the burglaries.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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