Police Catch Model Home Robber

Police Catch Model Home Robber

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Crime specialist Karen Scullin reporting

For months thieves have used bold tactics to rob new homes, model homes and construction sites. But today Salt Lake County Sheriff's detectives got a big break.

At least seven homes were burglarized from Millcreek to Alpine, and although there's no official price tag on all the items, one house had $30,000 worth of furniture and accessories stolen.

"They're just a bunch of people that decide to go get whacked on meth and steal stuff for their own use," says Sergeant Darren Carr.

Matt Kruckenberg is shopping for his stolen stuff. Thieves have been bold, using a truck to rip off items from new homes and haul them away.

"A house full of appliances, (in) another house light fixtures, another house sinks and fixtures, and a fourth house more sinks and more items, garbage disposals," Kruckenberg says.

But this morning, a big break came in the case.

Joey Zucca was arrested at the home he shares with his 83-year-old grandmother. Officers say she had no idea her grandson was a crook.

"Him and his buddies would get high on meth and they would go out and they'd pick up items. You know, anything that was or wasn't nailed down," Carr says.

And, Sgt. Carr says, the scheme really wasn't a big money-making venture.

"They were trying to decorate their own home, or make this ad-hoc garage into a model home. They were given away as gifts to people," Carr says.

Investigators say the suspects would choose their next house to hit by shopping right from home on the Internet, and that some homes in Centerville were probably next on the list.

Detectives suspect most of the "hot property" is now spread out across the Salt Lake Valley. So investigators and victims in the case hope today's arrest was the beginning of the end.

"At least it will keep them from doing it again," Kruckenberg says.

The victim in this case says an alert neighbor took down the license plate of a suspicious vehicle and that led investigators to Joey Zucca.

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