Suspect arrested in Chandler vending machine burglaries

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Christopher Jon Ash By Jennifer Thomas Christopher Jon Ash By Jennifer Thomas

CHANDLER, Ariz. – Chandler police have arrested a suspect in connection with a string of vending machine burglaries.

Christopher Jon Ash, 32, of Mesa, was taken into custody after a tenant found him inside the clubhouse at Villamora apartments at Germann Road and Arizona Avenue early Sunday morning.

Police said Ash forced entry into a Coca-Cola vending machine in order to remove the money. He fled the scene before police arrived but was soon located inside a vehicle at Arizona Avenue and Ray Road. He was arrested along with his girlfriend, Erin Brandley.

Detectives said they uncovered evidence inside Ash's residence.

Police believe Ash is responsible for three additional burglaries in Chandler -- two earlier this month and one last August. In one case, the suspect also stole a 42-inch flat-screen television.

On Jan. 21, police released surveillance video and asked for help identifying the suspect breaking into vending machines at a complex near Queen Creek and Dobson roads. Police said the suspect used a drill to bypass the lock then put on gloves and took the money from the machine.

Detective Seth Tyler said Ash used the same modus operandi in all the burglaries.

Ash was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on six counts of third-degree burglary, four counts of possession of burglary tools and one count of theft - control of stolen property.

Charges are pending against Brandley.