Charges re-filed against two serial laundry burglary suspects

The District Attorney’s Office has re-filed burglary charges against two men who, authorities claim, broke into 22 Northeast Philadelphia apartment buildings primarily to steal change from coin-operated laundry machines housed inside each property.

The prosecutor’s office will be hoping that their case against Marcus Fair and Anthony O’Connor proceeds further than it did on March 13, when a Municipal Court judge dismissed the same charges against both men at a preliminary hearing. Judge Karen Y. Simmons ruled that prosecutors didn’t present enough evidence of a crime to warrant a trial.

Because the case did not make it to the trial phase, it’s the DA’s prerogative to re-file the charges, which it did for Fair on March 23 and O’Connor on March 29. A new preliminary hearing has been scheduled for April 26.

During the first preliminary hearing, the DA’s Office submitted affidavits from the apartment building owners stating that the defendants had no permission to enter the properties. The prosecutor also presented photographic evidence purportedly placing the defendants inside the properties at the time the break-ins occurred.

Fair’s defense attorney, Eileen Hurley, argued that the affidavits were incomplete and that the photographic evidence was inconclusive as to the subjects’ identities.

The DA’s Office claims that Fair, 28, of the 1000 block of Buggy Whip Drive in Warminster, and O’Connor, of the 12000 block of Pandrail Place in Somerton, broke into 22 apartment buildings throughout the Northeast, but mostly in the 7th Police District, between Nov. 28 and Feb. 1.

Generally, the intruders made their way to the laundry rooms in each building, pried open the locked change boxes on the machines and swiped whatever money was available. Sometimes, the crooks made off with hundreds of dollars in coins. They allegedly took about $800 from a property on the 9600 block of Bustleton Ave. on Jan. 4. Other times, they ended up with $20 or less. In a Jan. 14 case, they allegedly inflicted thousands of dollars in damage to machines in a building on the 2100 block of Tremont St., but they made off with relatively few coins.

In a few cases, the men also stole electronics and tools that had been stored in the apartment buildings, police have said.

Police captured Fair and O’Connor during a car stop on Feb. 4 in the 24th district. The investigation led to the recovery of stolen property and clothing that the suspects allegedly wore in committing the break-ins.

O’Conner is free on $10,000 bail pending the next preliminary hearing. He has prior arrests in Philadelphia for burglary, retail theft, drug offenses and driving without a license. Fair is imprisoned in Centre County for violating probation in an unrelated drug case. His public court records show no prior arrests in Philadelphia. ••

William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com. Follow the Times on Twitter @NETimesOfficial.