TEMPE -- Tempe Police have arrested a man they believe is responsible for at least 17 burglaries in a one mile radius over the past three weeks.
Police said 24-year-old Michael Dean Tolley targeted homes where people were present.
“That was what really raised our concern. He didn’t mind if someone was home. He actually enjoyed it,” said Sgt. Michael Pooley with the Tempe Police Department.
Pooley said Tolley would also watch his sleeping victims.
“What he told us is that he loved it when people were home,” he said.
Melanie Youngblood was at home when she believes she was victimized by Tolley.
“My car was broken into. He took my wallet out and actually took my debit card out,”said Youngblood.
She said she was victimized again just a few days later.
“He came back a few days later and actually broke into our house through the doggy door. He got my diaper bag and my school backpack and rummaged through it,” she said.
The worst part, for Youngblood is that she attended Dobson High School with Tolley and thought of him as a friend, though she doesn’t think he knew her current address.
She described him as a fun-loving person who later got heavily involved in the drug scene.
“He was a fun guy. Everyone liked him. He was a partier,” she said, “I haven’t really talked to him since he’s been into drugs.”
According to Tempe police, Tolley was stealing to feed a serious methamphetamine and heroine addiction.
They said Tolley would never break a window or break down a door. Instead, he allegedly slipped in through unlocked doors, windows, or doggie doors.
Tolley allegedly stole cash, cell phones and purses, then sold the items on Craigslist.
“There were certain pieces of property on Craigslist that were very specific to a victim and that’s what tipped them off,” said Pooley about Tempe Police detectives, “Our detectives were able to set up a buy with Mr. Tolley and go out and meet him and purchase a stolen piece of property.”
After allegedly busting Tolley with a stolen item, police served a search warrant Tuesday on a home at 5017 South Mill Avenue where they found more stolen property.
A man at that address who declined to give his name or an on-camera interview to 3TV identified himself as Michael Tolley’s step-father.
“He was living here with me for about three weeks, but I kicked him out because bad things were happening,” he said.
Tolley is charged with 17 counts of burglary and other charges including criminal trespass and trafficking stolen property.
Tolley is currently in jail and not eligible for bond because he was on felony release. He was arrested in June on drug-related charges.