Police: Suspect may be involved in as many as 50 commercial burglaries in Phoenix

Posted at 11:27 AM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-05 01:29:47-04

A church alarm led to the arrest of a man that may be linked to more than 50 commercial burglaries.

Court records show that in July, August and September police received calls of more than 50 commercial burglaries in the area of I-17 to 15th Avenue from Campbell to Northern avenues.

Police believe they have now arrested the man responsible for many of these burglaries.

Police report that on September 27 just before 7 a.m. a patrol officer heard an alarm going off at a church near 17th and Highland avenues. 

The officer went to investigate and saw a man, later identified as 30-year-old Joseph Lewis Roche, coming from the fence and walking down the alley with a backpack over his shoulder. He then found the bag lying on the ground, inside was a 'large amount of cash, jewelry, and cell phones items.'

The officer caught up and detained Roche just down the street.

Roche reportedly told the police that he pulled on the door to see if the church was open and when the alarm went off, he left. 

Police say they had received reports of over 50 commercial burglaries in the area over the past three months. They checked surveillance photos from some of the locations, and a fingerprint left at another site and matched it to Roche. So far police have been able to link Roche to seven of the burglaries either by print, video or DNA evidence and are still investigating the others.

When confronted by police, Roche reportedly admitted to conducting burglaries but did not provide a number of locations or addresses.

Abel Hurtado, the owner of Ringside Pub, among the listed businesses targeted by Roache, said he caught the suspect on camera as he stole several televisions, bottles of liquor and even ate candy from a dish at the bar.

"He seemed to know where all the cameras were and tried to turn them around," he said.

Hurtado said Roache broke in through the roof and dropped inside through the attic but he left the pliers and crowbar he used on the roof which police took as evidence.

"I was just going to put this on the back burner and forget about it but I'm kinda glad they got him, that's awesome," he said. 

Some of the places he has been charged with burglarizing are a bar, medical facilities, an auto parts store, a restaurant, and a cell phone shop.

Roche has been charged with multiple counts of burglary, theft, and drug-related crimes.