'Ninja Burglar' suspect unmasked

- KTVU first broke the news about the so-called "Ninja Burglar" and his arrest earlier this week. Now, police have identified the suspect and are crediting the arrest to surveillance videos collected by neighbors and shared with the department.

Surveillance video showed the suspect wearing all black in the Oakland hills carrying not one, but what turned out to be two swords in a black sheath.  The video showed him skulking and tiptoeing around homes and cars.

Police say, the suspect, 27-year-old Justin Joseph Holbert of Oakland, was arrested Monday when he was found near a stolen car in East Oakland. The swords were in the car.

Police gave KTVU a close look at the weapons. It's unclear where the suspect got them.

"This weapon here is illegal based on the size of the blade and the fact that there are two here," said Officer Marco Marquez, an Oakland police spokesman. "The blade here is a fixed 16-inch blade. In total, the swords are 24 and a half inches long."

Officers say the surveillance videos were quickly shared by residents in the Montclair District and then with police. Officers say they recognized Holbert from previous contacts, and within hours, police spotted him during an unrelated call and arrested him on a warrant for a previous burglary and assault case.

Now, Alameda County prosecutors have charged Holbert with burglary and auto theft.

Police services technician Sarah Hicks helps collect video evidence.

"Any time a crime happens, every piece of evidence is just a piece of the puzzle," Hicks said. "With surveillance video, it tells us so much of what actually happened. And it allows us to just ask better questions and move forward with the investigation."

"And when this information and this video is brought to the attention of the police, it only furthers and helps our investigation in finding who these suspects, these burglary suspects are in these cases," Marquez said.

KTVU has learned that Holbert may have good reason to be stealthy. Court records show that's he's fled from police at least three times in previous cases before being arrested, a good reminder to neighbors to be a good witness and not get involved directly.

 

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