Teen burglary suspect charged

Was wanted for questioning in 27 break-ins

Posted: Sunday, April 09, 2006

A 19-year-old man has been charged with at least two of the residential burglaries police have been investigating in Juneau since last fall.

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Police arrested Tyrel Matthew Pitka at 10:28 p.m. Friday in the Mendenhall Valley and lodged him at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on two counts of first-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree theft. The charges could carry a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison, but they may be only the beginning.

Juneau Police Sgt. David Wrightson said the department had been looking to question Pitka about 27 burglaries in the Mendenhall Valley dating back to October 2005. "We've been looking for him for awhile," he said.

While Pitka was being sought for questioning in the string of burglaries, a warrant charged him with failing to appear for a scheduled court appearance on another matter. Wrightson said he did not know what the charges were in that case.

Investigators have sent DNA and other evidence to be tested at the state crime Lab in Anchorage. Wrightson said he expects more charges will be brought once those tests are completed, which may take some time.

"We have a lot of evidence that has been sent to the crime lab," Wrightson said. "It's not actually like CSI. It takes a long time to get things done."

Two burglaries in the Mendenhall Valley were reported on Friday. Wrightson said the department is looking at the possibility of Pitka's involvement in those as well.

Police are still looking for Pitka's alleged accomplice, according to Lt. Kris Sell.

Wrightson said JPD has been putting a lot of effort into solving the rash burglaries in the valley in recent months.

"It's been a huge priority for us for awhile," he said.

Wrightson said he doesn't believe burglaries will stop because they have arrested one person on burglary charges. "People should be wary that burglaries may occur, because, unfortunately that's the day and age we live in in Juneau," he said.

Anyone with information about the burglaries is encouraged to call JPD.

• Eric Morrison can be reached at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.

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