NORTH RIDGEVILLE — North Ridgeville police arrested an Elyria man who they believe is responsible for at least 18 nighttime burglaries.
The suspect, Nicholas Pelfrey, 28, was arrested 6:30 a.m. Friday after a resident reported a burglar had broken into her Hardwood Drive home by cutting a window screen.
Police arrested the man later at his home on South Carolina Avenue.
According to a news release, the North Ridgeville Detective Bureau found cash and other evidence in Pelfrey’s home linking him to approximately 18 home burglaries since Aug. 16.
He is also suspected in burglaries in Elyria, Avon and surrounding townships, police said.
The detective bureau developed the suspect’s description and a description of his vehicle Thursday. At 1 a.m. Friday, an officer spotted the suspect’s vehicle, a blue 2002 Ford Windstar minivan, parked on Hardwood Drive. The minivan was occupied by a 33-year-old North Ridgeville woman, who told police the vehicle had broken down.
Ten minutes later, police received a 911 call for a burglary in progress on Hardwood Drive.
The homeowner’s mother, who was sleeping in the basement of the home, was awakened by footsteps above and walked upstairs, realizing that the home was being burglarized. The woman woke up her son who called police, but the thief was gone for four minutes before police arrived.
Officers set up a perimeter around the home, with assistance from the Avon Police Department and Ohio Highway Patrol, and used a police dog to search for the burglar. He was not located, and the search was called off at 4 a.m.
With new evidence, the detective bureau was able to identify Pelfrey, and he was arrested at 6:30 a.m. at his home.
Police said Pelfrey was on probation and has prior arrests for similar incidents.
Pelfrey has eight burglary convictions through the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. He was convicted of five counts of burglary and two counts of attempted burglary in April 2007 and two counts of burglary and two counts of theft in July of that year.
Pelfrey was caught by police after he stole a gift card to Bed, Bath & Beyond and then called the store, providing his name, address and telephone number to find out how much the gift card was worth.
An employee at the store called the police, and Pelfrey admitted he broke into a home on Kansas Avenue and stole the gift card out of a woman’s purse, along with several electronics, while the family was sleeping.
Pelfrey also confessed to several other burglaries and vehicle break-ins in the area and was charged with those crimes as well.
Pelfrey was recently charged with burglary as a repeat offender in February, and was sentenced to three years of community control and ordered to pay fines. He is also facing charges of aggravated vehicular assault, driving under the influence and failure to control.
Police believed Pelfrey was under the influence of heroin when his vehicle was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle in February.
Several syringes were found in the Mitsubishi Montero that Pelfrey was driving, and puncture marks were found on one of his arms, according to a police incident report.
The crash seriously injured a 60-year-old woman, but the woman later recovered. The woman’s 4-year-old granddaughter was in the vehicle as well but was not injured.
Pelfrey was jailed over the incident but later released.
The Elyria Police Department is not saying whether Pelfrey has been involved with the rash of burglaries in the city, but they are working with the North Ridgeville Police Department to find out how many he may have committed.
“Our detective bureau has a very good relationship with North Ridgeville Police Department, and we’ll be sitting down with them and going through that,” said police Lt. Chris Costantino.
There have been 13 burglaries in Elyria this month. The Elyria Police Department reported 32 burglaries from Sept. 14 to 28.
Four teenagers were arrested in connection with a burglary in North Ridgeville on Monday. Police said that the teens admitted to only the one burglary, but the department is investigating to determine if the teens, or if Pelfrey, is responsible for any more of the city’s 75 burglaries this year.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or email@example.com.