Suspect in string of restaurant burglaries to plead guilty

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A man arrested in connection with dozens of restaurant and small business burglaries has entered into a plea agreement with the Marion County Prosecutors Office.

Prosecutors said Kenneth Ward, 54, is expected to plead guilty to four counts of burglary and one count of resisting law enforcement.  His plea and sentencing hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, May 15.

The charges stem from a crime spree that lasted several months, and spanned several Indiana counties.

Ward’s image started popping up on security cameras in November last year, after multiple smash-and-grab burglaries.  In each case, police said he broke in through a window or glass door at a restaurant or other small business, used a crowbar to grab the cash register and then ran out to his small truck outside.  Most of the burglaries were completed in 30 seconds or less.

In early 2013, officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department followed a tip about Ward’s identity and began tracking his movements.  In January, he committed one burglary and got away from officers while they were tracking him.  However in February, police said they caught him in the act and captured him after a pursuit ended with Ward jumping out of his moving truck and trying to fight off a police K9.

During police interviews, Ward admitted to committing 36 burglaries in eight different counties, including Bartholomew, Boone, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jackson, Johnson, Marion and Monroe.

Ward is expected to be sentenced to 25 years executed, serving at least 15 years in prison.  With good time credit, he could likely serve seven and a half years behind bars. But that’s just the Marion County case.

The Morgan County Prosecutor’s Office has also filed charges against Ward in a restaurant burglary in Mooresville.  Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robert Cline said he’s now waiting for Ward’s Marion County case to wrap up.

“He will be transferred to Morgan County and he’ll start the process here,” Cline said.

Mooresville Police Det. Brad Yarnell cited good cooperation between various police departments in capturing Ward.

“I was able to talk to Noblesville PD,” Yarnell wrote in a probable cause affidavit.  “They emailed me a picture of their suspect from the store video and it was the same male that had broken into the El Rodeo in Mooresville.”

Yarnell also cited Fox59’s coverage of the burglaries in helping to connect the dots between different counties.
“(I had) seen on the news where there were multiple other jurisdictions working the same type of burglaries that we had just had,” Yarnell wrote.

The Morgan County prosecutor is expected to argue for habitual offender status for Ward due to several past convictions.  He was arrested and charged with similar burglaries in Hendricks and Johnson counties in 2000.

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