ELKTON — Surveillance video and tips from people in the community helped investigators identify and arrest a man who allegedly stole a utility vehicle from the Cecil County Central Landfill after breaking into a building there, police reported Friday.
The suspect, Joseph Randolph Swauger, 33, stands accused of trespassing onto the landfill in the 700 block of East Old Philadelphia Road at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday — after business hours — breaking a window to enter a building there and stealing a weed-whacker, a handheld radio and a 2009 John Deere 4-by-4 Gator that is valued at approximately $4,000, according to Lt. Michael Holmes, a Cecil County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Swauger, however, did not leave the premises until more than five hours later, after the landfill had opened for the day, Holmes noted.
“He leaves at 5 a.m. (Wednesday). He drives the Gator through the open gate,” said Holmes, who did not know why Swauger lingered on the property for so many hours.
Landfill surveillance cameras videotaped the burglary suspect, and CCSO investigators later posted the footage and photos on the agency’s Facebook page, asking people to contact detectives if they recognized the person seen, police reported.
“We received several tips from people, identifying the suspect as Joseph Swauger,” Holmes said.
Also helping investigators, Swauger was spotted at Wright’s Deli, which is close to the landfill, shortly after he had left the landfill early Wednesday morning, police said. At that time, police added, he was operating the stolen vehicle in question.
“He leaves the landfill and then he goes to Wright’s Deli and purchases a drink. People remember him coming there on a Gator,” Holmes said.
After further investigation, CCSO detectives developed Swauger as the suspect and then conducted a court-approved search of his residence in the 1900 block of East Old Philadelphia Road residence, a short distance from the landfill, on Thursday, police reported.
Investigators arrested Swauger at that residence, after forcing their way into the home and finding him and two other people hiding in an attic and locating another person hiding on the first floor, according to police. The four people who were inside that residence had refused to obey law enforcement orders to come out of house, resulting in deputies and detectives forcing their way into the dwelling, police reported.
The other three people in the house — two men and a woman — were taken into custody along with Swauger because they were wanted on outstanding warrants relating to relatively minor crimes, police noted.
Investigators also recovered the stolen property at the residence, according to Holmes, who commented, “The Cecil County (Government) stickers had already been removed from the Gator.”
Swauger is facing six charges — including second-degree burglary, theft of more than $1,500 and less than $25,000 and vehicle theft, all of which are felonies, according to Cecil County District Court records, which list CCSO Det. Donald Lidy as the arresting officer.
Scheduled for a June 28 preliminary hearing, Swauger remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond Tuesday after his bail review hearing a day earlier, court records show.