Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
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Friday, August 17, 2012
Smoking bandit suspect arrested in city
Posted: Friday, August 17, 2012
After allegedly swiping thousands of dollars worth of cigarettes, police finally burned the so-called smoking bandit Friday.
Philadelphia police arrested Daniel Haggard, 44, who has no fixed address, hours after he allegedly pulled his latest cigarette caper at a CVS drug store in the 9800 block of Bustleton Avenue in the Northeast section of the city, not far from the Bucks County border.
A 7th District Philadelphia police officer caught Haggard carrying a trash bag filled with cigarettes as he got on a SEPTA bus around 8 a.m. in the 5200 block of Frankford Avenue, about four hours after the drug store was burglarized, police said.
Police also believe Haggard stole a van around 6 a.m. Friday, after the drug store burglary, but abandoned it.
He is being held by Philadelphia police and is expected to be formally charged with at least six burglaries in Bucks and Philadelphia. Bensalem police have already filed an arrest warrant for two burglaries Haggard is suspected of committing in the township.
The CVS was the fourth store Haggard allegedly burglarized since his spree began in Bucks County on Aug. 6, when he allegedly stole $4,500 worth of cigarettes and a 6-pack of Miller Light from a Bensalem beer store.
All together, police say he stole more than $6,800 in items — nearly all of it cartons and loose packs of cigarettes in Philadelphia, Bensalem and Lower Southampton.
The early morning burglaries occurred in beer and drug stores with Haggard allegedly using a cinder block or broken asphalt to shatter the bottom panel of glass front doors, crawling inside and stuffing the stolen items — mostly cigarettes — into a plastic trash bag he kept in the back pants pocket, police said.
Following the widespread media coverage the burglaries generated, police received tips that lead to Haggard being developed at the suspect seen in various surveillance video clips and photos that police released.
Surveillance footage of smoking bandit
The Bensalem detectives and the Philadelphia Police Burglary Task Force attempted to locate Haggard, but found out that he was homeless. They were in the process of acquiring arrest warrants for him when he was taken into police custody.
Haggard, who uses at least eight aliases, has a lengthy criminal record in Pennsylvania, according to online criminal records. Most recently he was sentenced to five years prison in 2006 after pleading guilty to a 2004 burglary in Bucks County.
In Bucks County, police believe that Haggard is responsible for a Lower Southampton burglary at the Trevose Beer Store in the 500 block of Andrews Road on Aug. 11, two similar cigarette burglaries in Bensalem on Aug. 6 and 9 and others in Philadelphia.