press release October 31, 2016
MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. - Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi announced that a Medford Township man has been sentenced to 17 years in New Jersey state prison for a $2 million burglary spree that hit 21 residences in six municipalities in Burlington and Camden counties.
Under the sentence handed down on Friday October 28 in Superior Court by the Hon. Charles A. Delehey, J.S.C., Darius Gittens must serve eight years before being eligible for parole.
The sentence covers a combination of charges to which Gittens, 57, of Skeet Road in Medford Township, pled guilty to in January 2016, and was found guilty of at trial in December 2015. In total, the charges include four counts of Theft (Second Degree), 23 counts of Burglary (Third Degree) and one count of Attempted Burglary (Third Degree).
The crimes were committed between October 2011 and August 2012. Gittens was arrested on September 5, 2012.
Gittens has convictions for theft and burglary in California, Florida and New York. He escaped from Sing Sing State Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York, in December 1986 by scaling the 20-foot prison wall after dinner with two other inmates. He failed to stop when a warning shot was fired from a guard tower. He was captured three hours later walking along railroad tracks less than a quarter mile from the prison’s south wall.
He is a sophisticated career criminal who familiarized himself with the patrol patterns of local police departments in Burlington and Camden counties. He spent a great deal of time planning and executing each crime, learning the habits of homeowners and making sure they would be away during the burglaries.
The burglary spree began on Halloween night in 2011, with the break-in to a home on Golf View Road in Moorestown.
Gittens burglarized 21 homes for a total of more than $2 million in Evesham, Medford Township, Moorestown and Mount Laurel in Burlington County and Haddonfield and Voorhees in Camden County. Most of the homes were in upscale neighborhoods, near a golf course or on a wooded lot with minimal views, and were secluded from neighboring properties.
At the targeted homes, phone and alarm wires were cut, and entry was often made by smashing a rear sliding door. A police radio was used to monitor emergency communications.
Items stolen included jewelry, watches, furs, coins, crystal, silverware, handbags, firearms, camera equipment and other electronics. Once the similarities in the burglaries were discovered, a task force was formed consisting of law enforcement agencies from the affected towns, as well as the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office.
A break in the case came after DNA from Gittens was found on a flashlight left behind during one of the Moorestown burglaries. From there the investigation shifted to the analysis of more than 9,000 phone calls and text messages, as well as surveillance.
Many of the items were pawned. More than 500 stolen items were recovered. Some of them were buried in Gittens’s yard and others were hidden in an abandoned building in Philadelphia.