Thursday, August 12, 2004

Home burglary suspect charged in West Chester

Three homes broken into last week around same time

By Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Police have arrested a man suspected of burglarizing homes while the occupants were inside early Wednesday.

Jason Joseph, 23, of Hamilton, is accused of two counts of aggravated burglary, a count of attempted aggravated burglary and a count of possession of criminal tools - a pocket knife that police believe may have been used to cut a screen in at least one of the incidents, officials said.

All the incidents happened early Wednesday in the same subdivision, police said.

The most serious charge Joseph faces, aggravated burglary, is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The potential penalty is much greater because the homes were occupied at the time, said West Chester Police Sgt. Erik Niehaus.

Niehaus said such burglaries are "pretty rare."

At 2:11 a.m., police were called to investigate an attempted aggravated burglary in the 9700 block of Flagstone Court.

Four minutes later, a homeowner called to report an intruder in his bedroom in the 5000 block of Rialto Ridge Drive.

Police later arrested Joseph after he was seen walking in the area of the burglary.

He was charged in those two incidents along with an earlier aggravated burglary in the 9400 block of Deerwalk Court.

Investigators were trying to determine whether a fourth incident could be related, Niehaus said.

A judge in Butler County Area II Court, Hamilton, set Joseph's bond at $50,500 cash only. His preliminary hearing is set for 2:30 p.m. Monday.

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