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A Toledo man who authorities say burglarized about 40 homes in more than eight communities in Lucas, Ottawa, and Wood counties was arrested last night in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a Columbus suburb.
Timothy Joseph Koerner, also known as TJ, 36, of 1012 Woodward Ave., was being sought on multiple counts of burglary and auto theft when he was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals and Reynoldsburg police about 6 p.m. at a bar in a Days Inn motel. He was being held in the Franklin County jail.
He eluded police twice during the last three months, Sylvania police Detective Michael Yunker said. Evidence was recovered from Koerner's West Toledo home Wednesday afternoon when Toledo-area law enforcement agencies served a search warrant. He was not there and was believed to have fled to the Columbus area where he has relatives, Detective Yunker said.
Police believe Koerner is the man who has been entering homes through unlocked doors when occupants are asleep and stealing wallets, purses, and car keys that he uses to take their vehicles, Detective Yunker said.
The burglar often uses those stolen vehicles to commit one to five other burglaries a night, before getting rid of the vehicles.
Police have recovered identification taken from the burglarized homes, sometimes several in one vehicle, the detective said.
No injuries were reported in any of the burglaries.
Some of the areas impacted include Sylvania, Sylvania Township, Perrysburg, Perrysburg Township, Oregon, Monclova Township, Lake Township, and Clay Township. "This is a case when the public came together to give us Crime Stopper tips and that, combined with efforts by the area law enforcement agencies working together with a combined effort, made this investigation go very smoothly," Detective Yunker said.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Chris Hodge said the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force traveled to Columbus after receiving information that Koerner would be in the area.
Mr. Hodge and another deputy from Toledo watched a house in the Columbus area for several hours on reports that Koerner was there.
"I was going to stay there all night until I caught this guy," Mr. Hodge said. "I was in it to win it."
Then they got information that Koerner was at the bar of the Days Inn. Mr. Hodge, the other deputy from Toledo, and a deputy U.S. Marshal from Columbus walked in, looked around, and noticed Koerner was outside smoking.
Koerner walked back into the bar.
"We just grabbed (him) and told him he was under arrest," Mr. Hodge said. "He was very, very shocked."
Koerner was taken into custody about 6 p.m. Thursday by marshals and Reynoldsburg police. He was arrested on a warrant from Oregon police and was to spend the night in the Franklin County jail before making an appearance Friday before a Franklin County judge.
Mr. Hodge said the effort was coordinated among the police departments in the suburbs affected and U.S. Marshals.
"It was as simple as that: A city police department can t jump in a car to arrest somebody in Columbus," Mr. Hodge said. "As a U.S. Marshal, I can go anywhere in the United States to arrest somebody."
Koerner was convicted in February, 1993 in Lorain County, Ohio on five counts of aggravated burglary, and was convicted in April in Toledo Municipal Court of drug abuse.
Staff writers Meghan Gilbert, Jane Schmucker, Mark Zaborney contributed to this report.