Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Suspect charged with smash-and-grabs at South St. businesses

Investigators say the suspect arrested matches the description of a man caught on surveillance camera committing the crimes. (PPD)
Investigators say the suspect arrested matches the description of a man caught on surveillance camera committing the crimes. (PPD)

Police have arrested a man who allegedly used a brick to commit a series of smash-and-grab burglaries at several Center City and South Street-area businesses. 

Officers on Saturday stopped Keith McClary, 56, on the 300 block of South 19th Street. Investigators said he matched the description of a man caught on surveillance camera committing the crimes. A search of McClary's home on the 700 block of South Martin Street allegedly turned up several items of clothing — including a black leather jacket — believed to match those worn by the suspect at the time of the burglaries.

Police released the surveillance footage to the public last Monday. Video showed a man shortly before 2:45 a.m. on Dec. 1 throwing a brick through the glass front door of Palm Tree Gourmet at 1940 Pine St. and stealing $200 from the cash register.

The video also showed a man around 4:10 a.m. Dec. 8 hurling a brick through the side door of Gavin's Cafe, at 2536 Pine St. An undisclosed amount of cash was stolen from the register.

Police said McClary is the suspect in similar burglaries committed in the early morning hours of Dec. 7 at Omega Pizza, located at 2145 South St., and Dec. 8 at Honey's Sit 'N Eat, located at 2101 South St. Each time, the restaurants' glass doors or windows were smashed through and the cash register either ransacked or removed completely. Police said the suspect was in each case in and out within about 3 minutes.

The surveillance video showing the burglaries of Palm Tree and Gavin's also suggest, according to police, the same person may be responsible for the Oct. 2 burglary of Pac-A-Deli, at 1200 Walnut St., during which a man around 4 a.m. threw a brick through the glass and made away with the entire cash register.

A police spokeswoman said Sunday it's not clear if McClary is being charged in connection with that crime. McClary is charged with burglary and related offenses for the break-ins at Palm Tree, Omega, Honey's and Gavin's.

Two other eateries - Dmitri's near 23rd and Pine streets and Resurrection Ale House at 2425 Grays Ferry Ave. - also suffered damage during early morning break-ins Dec. 9. Police have not yet said whether McClary will be charged in connection with those crimes.

A manager at Honey's Sit & Eat said reports of the burglaries spread through "industry word of mouth" and the establishment was "very relieved" to hear of the arrest.

Chef-owner Jezabel Careaga of Gavin's Cafe said she's been in close contact with case investigators. "I talked to the detectives today and was just telling them how thankful I am that we got a quick response from them," she said, noting she's also been in touch with other restaurateurs who suffered similar situations.

"I talked to the people from Dmitri's — because I know the guys and I went over and they told me what happened to them — and also from Honey's and Resurrection Ale House," she said. "It's very upsetting when things like this happen, the damages they cost."

She said though the thief only took $70 in cash from Gavin's, he caused $1,400 in damage to the front door and register.

"They walk in like it's their house. It's not their house," she said. "You don't take things that don't belong to you."

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