Britney Singleton and Harley Gifford, both 19, were arrested last week on 25 counts each of theft, conspiracy and related charges.
Police say the couple allegedly broke into more than two-dozen houses throughout Upper Darby this summer, lifting myriad items — some of which they allegedly sold on the street and at a local pawn shop and others that were stashed at their residence.
Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said that between mid-July and last week, the teens allegedly hit 25 houses in Upper Darby, as well as four in Prospect Park and Lansdowne.
The teens were caught after a homeowner walked in on the burglary in progress and, although one of the culprits struck the resident in the head and knocked him to the ground, one of the perpetrators dropped her ID in the scuffle.
Chitwood said the pair summarily admitted to all of the crimes when police arrived at their apartment Sept. 15, and have been cooperative with police since.
The list of stolen goods was lengthy, Chitwood said, and the diversity of the items was impressive.
“It went from toiletries to a 55-inch flat-screen TV,” Chitwood said.
The teens allegedly amassed $22,000 in cash — including some foreign money — as well as jewelry, laptops and a 7-foot wolf skin, as well as a large assortment of more unusual items including lotions, toilet paper, soap, condoms, achievement medals, baseball-card collections and games.
“Anything they could carry out they took,” Chitwood said, estimating that the stolen goods were valued in the thousands.
In addition to the odd assortment of stolen goods, Chitwood noted the case is also peculiar in that the suspects did not use a getaway car but carried all of their wares away on foot — including the 55-inch television.
The burglaries all took place during the day, with the culprits mostly climbing through open windows or walkingin through unlocked doors to gain access to the houses.
“You obviously see females commit crimes but to be this brazen is unusual — the fact that these were all broad-light burglaries and sometimes in homes where there were people inside sleeping is not common,” Chitwood said. “That being said, just this past weekend we had two more young girls locked up for burglary but that was just for one house; they weren’t as sophisticated and there weren’t as many houses as the first case.”
Chitwood said investigators uncovered another peculiar piece of the story when interviewing the suspects.
Separately, Singleton and Gifford told police their crime spree would have had one more residence on the list, but they were scared off while climbing into one house by a lion.
Chitwood said investigators interviewed the owner of the identified house last week and found no evidence of a lion, pet or otherwise.
“They both said they ran out when they saw what they both described as a lion,” he said. “We got the location and Friday night we were able to go inside but there was no lion. And there was no indication that there ever was a lion.”
Both teens were arrested earlier this year and charged with a series of theft and conspiracy offenses in relation to a December incident; they pleaded guilty to one count of each and Singleton was sentenced to five days in prison and probation, while Gifford was sentenced to probation.
Jen Colletta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.