David Thomas, 45, was pulled over for traffic violations shortly before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday on Parkway Boulevard in Wyandanch, police said.
That pre-dawn drive has launched an investigation by detectives in six of the county's seven precincts and three Nassau precincts, police said.
Since late 2012, police had been trying to figure out who was targeting Chinese restaurants during overnight hours, police said. The pattern in more than 50 break-ins was the same: The suspect entered through the front window and stole cash from the register, police said.
Thomas appeared to match the burglar captured on surveillance videos at some of the restaurants, Det. Sgt. Marco Giudice said.
Thomas, of 17 Bedford St., was arraigned Friday on 14 counts of third-degree burglary, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and unlicensed operator violations.
His bail information was not available Friday night.