Man charged with string of Helena car burglaries
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
A 22-year-old man is being held in the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling $50,000 after police said he was involved in a recent string of car burglaries in several Helena subdivisions.
Helena police arrested Justin Lee Burkart and charged him with 10 counts of unlawful breaking and entering a vehicle after officers said he allegedly stole items from several unlocked cars in the Fieldstone, Jackson Square, Ashley Brook and Brandywine subdivisions on March 14.
During the burglaries, a Helena resident’s home surveillance camera captured an image of a white male suspect, and provided the image to the Helena Police Department.
The department then placed the image on its Facebook page, and disseminated it to local media outlets.
“Within hours, officers were receiving several tips that indicated Burkart was involved,” read a Helena police press release. “Officers located Burkart at his place of employment and took him into custody.”
Police said Burkart allegedly tried to alter his appearance by cutting his hair after the surveillance photo was released. Burkart took officers to several locations in Shelby and Jefferson counties where he allegedly hid the stolen items, police said.
“Burkart stated that because his photo was released by Helena Police Department and local media within hours of the crime being committed, he was unable to sell or destroy the property for fear of being apprehended,” read the press release, adding Burkart allegedly confessed to the crimes.
After interviewing Burkart, Helena officers developed a second suspect police believe was involved in damaging several yards in the Fieldstone subdivision.
“Helena police are currently working with the victims where the damage occurred to see that those cases reach a successful resolution,” the release read.
“Once again, this case highlights the importance of locking vehicles and not leaving valuables within plain sight inside the vehicle,” said Helena police detective Chris Rollan, noting the public’s involvement was “instrumental” in apprehending Burkart.