PHOENIX, AZ (May 7, 2013) – A prolific thief who broke into homes by smashing doors and windows with a rock faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars after pleading guilty today in the second of two criminal cases brought against him. Robert James Neese (D.O.B. 3/15/1953), whose modus operandi earned him the moniker “rock burglar,” was also previously convicted in a separate case on eight counts of Burglary and seven counts of Theft last April. He faces a maximum sentence in excess of two hundred years in prison when he is sentenced by the Honorable Pamela Svoboda on May 21, 2013.
“Thanks to a combination of skilled investigatory techniques and diligent prosecution, this criminal has been brought to justice and will no longer be free to victimize members of our community,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “We now look forward to the imposition of an appropriate sentence that will hold this defendant accountable for the extensive harm he has caused,” he added.
After evading apprehension for years, Neese left behind important clues that led to his capture while burglarizing a home in Fountain Hills in April, 2011 and taking more than $12,000 in property. During their investigation, detectives with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office were able to recover fingerprint evidence from items within the home that had been moved from the position the homeowner had left them in. Detectives were also able to obtain impressions of footprints left on the highly polished floors of the residence.
On May 15, 2011, Neese was arrested for Possession of Burglary Tools during an unrelated burglary apprehension detail. Police obtained a court order allowing them to collect samples of Neese’s DNA and the shoes he was wearing. MCSO Crime Lab analysts discovered a forensic match between the lifted shoeprints from the Fountain Hills crime scene and the size, shape and outsole design of the shoes Neese was wearing when he was arrested. The shoes also contained multiple accidental identifying characteristics that matched the crime scene shoeprints. Analysis of the fingerprint evidence obtained from the crime scene revealed a match with prints obtained from Steven Ray Bolton (D.O.B. 12/24/1990) during a previous arrest for Disorderly Conduct and DUI.
The DNA samples obtained from Neese were subsequently linked to eight open burglary cases that occurred in Scottsdale and Carefree dating as far back as 1999. In March, 2005, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office obtained a 15-count “John Doe” indictment based on DNA evidence collected at several of the crime scenes. This evidence was used to positively identify Neese as the “John Doe” defendant named in the indictment. He was tried and convicted on all counts in April 2013. Today, Neese pled guilty today to one count of Burglary and one count of Possession of Burglary Tools stemming from his May, 2011 arrest.
Steven Bolton, who had no prior criminal record, was arrested on June 14, 2011 and charged with one count of Burglary. In March, 2012, he was found guilty and subsequently sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years of supervised probation.