SOUTH BEND — Old habits are apparently hard to break — even for suspected criminals.
Reed Pitchford, of South Bend, was arrested this week on suspicion of several garage burglaries, all in the River Park neighborhood — 12 years to the month he was charged for an attempted garage burglary in the same neighborhood.
Police announced during a news conference Thursday that Pitchford, 48, of the 700 block of South Ironwood Drive, has been charged with eight counts of class C felony burglary.
“They tend to be creatures of habit,” said Det. Sgt. Dominic Zultanski, head of the South Bend Police Department’s burglary unit, referring to the close proximity of the burglaries.
Pitchford was arrested by police on Wednesday and is believed to have committed at least 10 garage burglaries — and possibly up to 15 or 20 — in River Park since February 16.
Police also are filing reports to give to the city regarding two South Bend businesses, Logan’s Used Appliances and Willie’s Lawnmower Repair and Service. Both reportedly purchased some of the items from Pitchford without the proper licensing.
The burglaries all occurred on numbered streets from as far west as South 23rd Street to as far east as South 30th Street. His arrest in 2000 came on South 26th Street — the site of two of his recent suspected burglaries.
Pitchford also has been charged with felonies in 1997 for theft, 1998 for burglary, and in 2004 and 2010 for theft.
The month-long investigation included several divisions working together within the police department, GPS surveillance, Crime Reports software and identifying locations where stolen property was being sold.
Police were able to place a GPS tracking device on Pitchford’s vehicle on April 17 — after a warrant was secured — to assist with the arrest.
The burglary unit, meanwhile, will be contacting the victims to return a total of 25 items stolen items that were recovered.
Pitchford cooperated with police once he was apprehended by identifying some of the victims he burglarized as well as explaining some of his techniques, Zultanski said.
Pitchford, who reportedly confessed to all of the burglaries, told police he mainly broke in through service and garage doors, allegedly stealing eight lawn mowers, bikes, a snow blower and other items.
“He said, ‘They need to put better locks on the doors,” Zultanski said.
Regarding how Pitchford decided to cooperate so fully, Zultanski responded: “We’ve found in the past, all you have to do is ask.”
Zultanski said two South Bend businesses purchased merchandise from Pitchford. Zultanski said the stores — Logan’s, 224 Monroe St. and Willie’s, 244 S. Olive St. — were operating without proper licensing, and did not maintain proper documentation of Pitchford’s purchases.
Zultanski said both businesses cooperated in the investigation, and stolen property was discovered at each location on Wednesday.
Police will file reports with the South Bend city attorney’s office regarding Logan’s and Willie’s, to see if any violations will be assessed. Neither store will be allowed to engage in secondhand store activity until licenses are secured from the city.
Anyone with information about businesses purchasing such stolen property in the city is asked to contact South Bend Police at 574-235-9263. Those calling regarding the River Park burglaries is asked to contact Zultanski at 574-235-7501.