PHOENIX, AZ (August 7, 2013) - A serial burglar who evaded apprehension for more than a decade has been sentenced to 22.75 years in prison by the Honorable Pamela Svoboda. Robert James Neese (D.O.B. 3/15/53) became known as the “rock burglar” for his favored method of breaking into houses by smashing a window or door with a rock. He was convicted of multiple counts of Burglary in April, 2013 for a string of break-ins dating as far back as 1999. He also pled guilty to similar charges in a separate case in May, 2013.
“Today’s sentence should dispel any doubts about the commitment of this office to hold criminals accountable regardless of how long it may take,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “I commend our law enforcement partners for their diligent efforts and cooperation in bringing this defendant to justice,” he added.
The case against Neese took nearly a decade to assemble. Although his burglaries followed a similar pattern, police were unable to positively identify Neese as the perpetrator. In March, 2005, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office obtained a 15-count “John Doe” indictment based on DNA evidence collected from multiple burglaries in Scottsdale and Carefree, some of which had occurred as early as 1999.
A break in the case came in April, 2011 during an investigation of a burglary in Fountain Hills involving $12,000 in stolen property. Detectives with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office were able to obtain impressions of footprints left on the highly polished floors of the residence. The following month, 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.
The DNA samples were found to match the DNA of the unknown “John Doe” in the 2005 indictment. MCSO Crime Lab analysts also 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. In April, 2013, Neese was tried and convicted on all counts in the 2005 indictment. He subsequently pled guilty to one count of Burglary and one count of Possession of Burglary tools stemming from his 2011 arrest.