Police arrest serial burglar

Gary Lee Hunter
Gary Lee Hunter

By Sara Gouedy - bio | email

NORTH AVONDALE, OH (FOX19) -- The man suspected of committing almost 60 break-ins over just seven months is now locked up in the Hamilton County Justice Center.

Residents in North Avondale and several other communities can rest easy for the first time since the beginning of this year.

David Gilbert won't forget the day someone broke into his Suburban SUV, stealing money from the car as he slept inside his North Avondale house.

He says that night, he'd packed up the car for his kid's soccer practice.

"You could tell someone had been in it," said Gilbert. "They ate all the snacks and drank all the juice boxes while they helped themselves to everything."

David says he also found some had tried to force open his front door.

"He took one chance at it and than left," he said.

But now David has reason to relax. Police have announced the capture of Gary Lee Hunter, a man they say broke into David's car, and about 55 homes in North Avondale, Paddock Hills, Amberley Village and Springfield Township during a seven month crime spree.

"We're very confident that we'll be able to close over thirty of those offenses with the arrest of Mr. Hunter," said Eliot Isaac with Cincinnati Police.

Cincinnati police say Hunter struck mostly at night, and that's how they caught him during a stakeout in North Avondale Tuesday night.

Police say he broke into a home on Avondale Lane, then fled to an apartment complex on Reading Road.

Once police arrested Hunter, they say they found many of the things reported stolen the break-ins.

"You never knew when it was going to happen so, everybody's been really scared and concerned," said David.

David says his neighbors in North Avondale banded together these seven months to help catch the person doing the break-ins. Many of them worked with police.

"It's gone on for so long," said David. "This guy was so hard to catch."

Gilbert and many of his neighbors say that even with this arrest, things have changed in this once quiet part of town. Each neighbor now watches out for the other.

Cincinnati police say Hunter spent five years in a New Jersey prison for a similar crime. They say they believe he got out in November, moved here, and started doing it all over again in January.