Officials: 'Prolific cat burglar' went on spree

Newly-appointed Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber and

Newly-appointed Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber and Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announce the arrest of Errol D. Barham. (July 10, 2012) (Credit: Jacqueline Connor)

A Copiague man authorities dubbed "a prolific cat burglar" and a "one-man crime wave" is suspected in a spree of overnight break-ins on the South Shore, Suffolk County authorities said Tuesday.

Errol D. Barham Jr., 22, is charged with six counts of second-degree burglary, one count of attempted second-degree burglary and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana, and is a suspect in 15 other burglaries, authorities said.

Barham, who is represented by Legal Aid, is being held in the Suffolk County jail with cash bail set at $70,000, authorities said. He is scheduled to be back in court Friday.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and acting Police Commissioner Edward Webber said at a news conference Tuesday that Barham struck mostly in the South Shore communities of Lindenhurst, North Babylon, Deer Park and West Babylon.

Spota said Barham would canvass areas, sometimes by bicycle, then enter homes through unlocked windows and doors, mostly between midnight and 4 a.m. He is suspected of stealing laptop computers, jewelry, cameras, credit cards and cash, often working as the homeowners slept, authorities said.

Barham was "a man who was terrorizing communities," Spota said.

By early June, Webber said, a burglary crime spree prompted police to form a task force headed by Sgt. Michael McDowell and including six other officers and two detectives.

On June 23, police released an advisory about the burglaries.

Members of the task force took overnight shifts during the spree.

Barham was arrested at 1:30 a.m. on July 4 as he rode his bicycle slowly through a North Lindenhurst neighborhood.

McDowell said he stopped Barham because of what he was wearing and the slow manner in which he was riding his bicycle.

"He had a hoodie on, it was very warm at night," McDowell said. "It didn't fit for that weather. . . . He was driving slowly past houses, casing the houses."

When he was arrested, Barham had burglary tools, authorities said. Based on that evidence, his actions and the area where he was arrested, a search warrant was obtained. Police then found stolen items at his home at 299 42nd St., Copiague, and issued additional charges, authorities said.

With Gary Dymski

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