Accused Asian restaurant burglar John Scalise was caught in New Jersey after multi-state crime spree

6:08 PM, Sep 4, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- A local man was arrested in New Jersey after a multi-state crime spree that began in South Florida, made its way through the Tampa Bay area, and on into South Carolina before finally coming to an end in New Jersey. 

Authorities say his target was mostly Asian restaurants, 10 of which were committed in the Tampa Bay area.

"I'm glad that police got them. I'm glad that justice is done," says Chung Cheng, whose wife's family owns J & H Asian Café on South Dale Mabry Highway.

Just one week after Chung's family opened their restaurant on South Dale Mabry Highway, they were robbed. 

Surveillance video of another business robbery that same weekend showed 35-year-old John Scalise breaking in the same way, by busting through a glass door or window. The video then shows Scalise head straight for the cash register. 

At J & H Asian Café he got away with $150, but the broken glass door cost twice that to repair. 

Scalise has also been charged with robbing the jewelry department at the Sears store inside University Square Mall in Tampa and a Macy's Store in New Jersey. 

Chung says when a family business is robbed the damage is greater.  "It does it hurt a lot. We put all our dreams into one store with the hope to raise our family and establish roots."

Egg Harbor Township Police in New Jersey nabbed Scalise after a crime spree there. He has been charged in that state with robbing six Asian restaurants and a Macy's store where he got away with $66,000 in jewelry. 

When police arrested Scalise, they found the mask along with nearly $100,000 in stolen jewelry from Sears and Macy's. Also arrested was Scalise's wife, 41-year-old Kathy Garcia. Authorities say the pair are suspects in a dozen burglaries in Broward County.

A man with a history of arrests, authorities also say, Scalise started his crime spree just days after being release from jail. Physical evidence he left behind at the Sears store at University Square Mall eventually led police to him. 

Scalise, a fugitive from Idaho, is charged with burglarizing a total of 16 Asian restaurants from Florida to New Jersey with more charges are pending.

Isabel Mascarenas

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