April 23, 2005
Police have arrested four men suspected of dozens of burglaries in Scottsdale, including one Scottsdale resident believed to have struck about 100 construction sites throughout the Valley.
One man raided veterinary and medical offices, while the other three stole items from construction sites, police said.
Scottsdale Sgt. Eric Rasmussen said recent efforts to target these types of crimes have been paying off.
"For us this is a substantial crime trend. There’s a lot of people targeting these homes under construction," he said. "These contractors and homebuilders are taking some substantial losses right now."
Scottsdale resident Jeff S. Hardman, 42, was arrested Thursday and suspected of auto theft, burglary, possession of dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia, Rasmussen said.
"We think that he was active all over the Valley from north Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria, maybe even down in Chandler, Gilbert," he said. "Based on our investigation, we determined that he was an extremely active burglar, possibly committing crimes every night."
Police, who had been watching Hardman, obtained a search warrant and forcibly entered his house Thursday in the 7100 block of East Jenan Drive. They said they found him with a small amount of methamphetamine.
Rasmussen said burglary at construction sites has been a problem since he began supervising the burglary unit four years ago. Thieves steal lumber, appliances, toilets, bathtubs, light fixtures, construction tools, generators, chandeliers and nail guns because they’re easy to sell, he said.
About two weeks ago, Scottsdale police stopped Hardman for having fake license plates and found possible burglary tools — a bolt cutter and a pry bar — in a 2001 Toyota Tundra he was driving, Rasmussen said. Police were investigating burglaries at homes under construction in the Troon area of north Scottsdale.
Detectives interviewed Hardman and found the truck was stolen from Glendale, Rasmussen said. A security guard and construction foreman reported seeing a similar truck at their job sites then noticed the burglaries after the truck left, he said.
Police showed photo lineups to the workers, who picked Hardman out.
After the arrest, police searched Hardman’s home and found a big screen television, appliances, tools and other stolen items worth about $10,000 to $13,000.
Police believe Hardman had been burglarizing homes for six months to a year.
Rasmussen said police still have a big job in trying to find the owners of the stolen property.
Two months ago, Scottsdale police arrested Ford "Fordie" Hornish, 41, who is believed to be connected to construction site burglaries. Phoenix police caught a man they said was Hornish’s accomplice, Robert Austin, 42, who was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, Rasmussen said.
Larger builders and contractors put security or install cameras at their sites, said Jason Franz, a spokesman for the Home Builder’s Association of Central Arizona. The organization doesn’t keep track of construction site burglaries.
"They’re aware of it, they’re doing everything in their power to keep things safe," he said.
Keith Pickering, construction manager for Classic Stellar Homes, said he has noticed burglaries at his company’s site near 89th Street and Cactus Road.
"For the last year and a half, it’s been pretty consistent when someone’s broken in and taken lighting, applicancy, plumbing fixtures, carpet, title, sometimes just one shower head," he said.
Scottsdale resident, Gino Orlando Calabria, 25, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of burglary. Rasmussen said Calabria targeted 20 to 30 businesses in Scottsdale, stealing computers, money, cameras and small electronics from medical and veterinary offices, including some in Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, Rasmussen said.
Police said Calabria used large pliers or a pipe wrench to destroy locks, a technique known as a "lock twist."
Fingerprints led police to Calabria. Police watched him for about two weeks before arresting him in Scottsdale.