Two Allentown brothers have been charged in more than 100 burglaries and attempted burglaries of businesses in a five-county area over 15 months, including businesses in South Whitehall.
George Washington, 28, and Angel Miguel Vargas, 30, who lived at 318 N. Second St., Allentown, were charged after an investigation that involved searches of vehicles and residences where the men were believed to have lived when the burglaries occurred, according to a release from the Lehigh County District Attorney's Office.
The two allegedly burglarized child care centers, gas stations, hair and nail salons, barber shops, restaurants, markets, video stores, pet stores, convenience stores and dry cleaning businesses from Oct. 2, 2009 to Jan. 7 in Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks, Luzerne and Schuylkill counties.
Among the locations were businesses in Salisbury, South Whitehall, Lower Macungie, Upper Macungie, Bethlehem, Upper Saucon and Lower Nazareth townships, Bethlehem and Coopersburg.
Other locations were in Hanover Township in Lehigh County and Hanover Township in Northampton County, Freemansburg, Wind Gap, Quakertown, Allentown, Hazleton, St. Clair and the townships of Heidelberg, North Whitehall, Richland and Whitehall.
Some of the businesses were targeted twice, police said, and the burglaries usually occurred between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Investigating were state police at Fogelsville, Allentown police and numerous municipal police departments. They viewed surveillance videos from some of the businesses that showed the men allegedly wearing masks and gloves.
Washington and Vargas allegedly stole similar items during the burglaries, including laptop computers, cigarettes, televisions, cell phones, money, cash registers and drawers, video games, gaming systems and accessories, food, clothing, safes, tools, two vehicles and a handgun, the release said.
Some of the items were recovered, police said.
Total value of the items was put at $142,230, according to the release. Damage was estimated at $76,829.
Washington and Vargas were arrested on Jan. 7 in Hazleton after an attempted burglary there.
Washington is charged with 108 counts of burglary, 93 counts of criminal conspiracy to commit burglary, 16 counts of attempted burglary, and multiple counts of theft, receiving stolen property, criminal mischief, and conspiracy to commit theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief.
Vargas is charged with 93 counts of burglary, 93 counts of criminal conspiracy to commit burglary, nine counts of attempted burglary, and multiple counts of theft, receiving stolen property, criminal mischief, and conspiracy to commit theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief.
Police said the brothers committed many of the burglaries and attempted burglaries together.
District Attorney James B. Martin said the cases will be consolidated. Since most of the crimes occurred in Lehigh County, Washington and Vargas will be prosecuted in Lehigh County.