Cops Charge Three Suspects With Lawrence Burglary
Three men - two of whom were already locked up in a Pennsylvania jail after they were allegedly caught riding in a stolen car - were charged on Tuesday with burglary and theft in connection with a residential break-in that happened in Lawrence on May 24.
Update, 12:45 p.m. June 6: New information has been obtained about the vehicle pursuit and foot chase that preceded the arrests of suspects James and Ward in Morrisville, Pa. That information can be found at the bottom of this story.
Three suspects have been identified and charged in connection with a burglary that occurred two weeks ago while residents were sleeping in their beds in their Pear Street home, a Lawrence Township Police Department spokesman revealed last night (Tuesday, June 5).
Lt. Mary Ubry identified the three suspects as Steven Key, 18, of Trenton; Brandon James, 18, of Trenton; and Daivaughn Ward, 20, of Hamilton Township. Each was charged yesterday with burglary and theft in connection with the residential break-in that occurred on the Lawrence Township side of the 700 block of Pear Street about 2 a.m. on May 24, he said.
Trenton police officials could not be reached last night to disclose whether Key, James and Ward are considered suspects in a similar burglary that took place on the Trenton side of the 700 block of Pear Street also during the early hours of May 24.
Thousands of dollars worth of electronics – including televisions, cameras and laptop computers – and sets of car keys were stolen from each home, police from Lawrence and Trenton have said. Two cars, a 1997 Buick and a 1999 Pontiac, were also stolen from the Lawrence Township home, while two other autos, both Toyotas, were taken from the house in Trenton.
The Lawrence Township home was possibly entered by way of an unlocked window, police have said. It is believed the break-in happened about 2 a.m. because residents later told police they remembered hearing a noise in the house about then but, at the time, they each assumed it was the sound of another member of the family moving around.
As has been previously reported, the Buick and the Pontiac that were stolen from the Lawrence Township home were found abandoned in Trenton later in the day on May 24. One of the Toyotas from the Trenton home, meanwhile, was recovered on May 25 when James and Ward were allegedly caught riding in it in Morrisville, Pa., Ubry related last night.
Ubry did not have specific details of those arrests and police in Morrisville could not be reached last night.
But a police blotter entry from the Bucks County Courier Times that appears on the PhillyBurbs.com website shows that James and Ward were arrested at West Trenton Avenue and Plaza Boulevard in Morrisville on May 25 and each charged with receiving stolen property. That report also listed James as having an address in Bristol Township, Pa.
The Bucks County Department of Corrections’ online inmate database last night showed that, in addition to receiving stolen property, James was charged by Morrisville police on May 25 with possession of marijuana, eluding, reckless driving, resisting arrest, recklessly endangering another person, and several other traffic violations, while Ward was also charged with marijuana possession and conspiracy.
James and Ward remain in custody at the Bucks County Correctional Facility and will face extradition to New Jersey to face the burglary and theft charges from Lawrence Township, Ubry said.
He said Key – the third suspect in the May 24 Lawrence Township break-in – was arrested about 4 p.m. yesterday in Trenton by Lawrence Township Detective William Chester, and was being held in lieu of $25,000 cash bail last night.
While he declined to provide specifics, Ubry said it was the investigation conducted by Chester and Detective Robert Potter that led to Key, James and Ward being charged as suspects in the Pear Street crime.
James and Ward were already in custody in Pennsylvania when, during the early hours of May 28 in Lawrence Township, a home invasion/robbery took place on Betts Avenue and another set of keys and a Toyota were stolen during another burglary on Lanning Avenue.
The victim of the home invasion told police he was dragged from his bed, beaten and bound by three men who broke into his home and stole thousands of dollars worth of property, including his work van. The van was later located in Trenton.
Ubry declined comment when asked if Key was considered a suspect in the Betts Avenue and Lanning Avenue crimes.
He said only that both the home invasion and the other burglary remain under investigation, and that the Toyota stolen from Lanning Avenue still has not been located.
Anyone with information about those crimes is asked to call township police at (609) 896-1111.
Editor’s Note: The following is based on criminal complaints and probable cause affidavits that were filed by the Morrisville Police Department with district court in Bucks County, Pa. The documents were obtained directly from the court by Lawrenceville Patch. Copies of these documents can be reviewed in the Patch media box above.
Shortly before 11:15 p.m. on May 24, Morrisville Police Officer Justin Bickhardt was on patrol in the area of West Trenton Avenue and Plaza Boulevard when he observed a silver Toyota Camry occupied by two men who were later identified as James and Ward.
Using the computer in his patrol car, Bickhardt checked the license plate number of the Toyota – which was heading west along West Trenton Avenue – and discovered that it had been reported stolen from Trenton earlier that day.
Bickhardt activated his patrol car’s warning lights and siren and attempted to stop the Toyota, but the Toyota’s driver – alleged to be James, with Ward as his passenger – turned onto Alden Avenue and accelerated onto Berwyn Road.
“As the target vehicle approached the intersection of Berwyn Road and Stevens Road, the driver lost control of the vehicle, crashing into the curb and stop sign at the corner,” Bickhardt wrote in the probable cause affidavits.
James allegedly jumped out of the driver’s seat and Ward exited the passenger’s side of the crashed Toyota, and both ran.
While radioing a description of James to other responding officers, Bickhardt pursued Ward as he fled east on West Trenton Avenue.
“As I exited my patrol vehicle to detain Mr. Ward, he changed direction and ran west on West Trenton Avenue,” Bickhardt wrote in the probable cause affidavits. “I proceeded on foot after Mr. Ward and drew my taser and advised Mr. Ward to stop running, in which Mr. Ward fell to the ground and was handcuffed.”
Two officers from Falls Township Police Department, meanwhile, detained a suspect at the 7-Eleven store on Alden Avenue who was later identified as James.
“Mr. James was positivedly ID[ed] by Mr. Ward as the driver of the silver 2004 Toyota Camry that crashed at the corner of Berwyn and Stevens,” Bickhardt wrote in the probable cause affidavits. “Mr. James was also in possession of keys to a silver 2011 Toyota Camry that was parked in the parking lot at the 7-Elven.”
That Toyota was found to have been reported stolen from Trenton also. “Both autos were towed by Falls Auto for processing by Trenton PD.”
James was charged with receiving stolen property, disorderly conduct, recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest, eluding police, reckless driving, driving at an unsafe speed, failure to obey a stop sign, leaving the scene of a traffic accident and possession of marijuana.
Ward was charged with receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy, disorderly conduct, and possession of marijuana.