Suspect 'locked and unlocked' stolen car while police watched

Suspect ‘locked and unlocked’ stolen car while police watched

(As originally published with additional photos, Wed, December 6th 2023, 5:31 PM EST)

LOWER MORELAND TOWNSHIP, Pa. (TND) — Some crimes are solved right away. Police north of Philadelphia said this one took a year to solve, and they’ve only made one of three arrests.

It started with the report of a stolen vehicle on Nov. 13, 2022. The victim reported their white Audi Q5 was taken from the driveway sometime overnight.

By 7 a.m. that day, there were four reports of thefts from vehicles, all within a mile of that victim’s home.

Lower Moreland police said they got surveillance video from a neighbor that showed “three male suspects who entered another vehicle, a GMC Sierra pickup truck, and removed items from within. These items were later recovered in the street.”

Officers also noticed a silver Ford Escape at another neighbor’s home with the back left door open. The owner said “their vehicle had been rummaged through. DNA swabs were obtained,” police said.

Another person gave police “video surveillance that identified the same males enter his Honda Pilot and remove items from within. DNA swabs were obtained.”

And yet another person “provided video surveillance that identified the same males enter their Honda CR-V and Honda Pilot. DNA swabs were obtained.”

At the time, “Video surveillance was obtained which identified three male suspects and a suspect vehicle. All three males appear to be approximately 6’ tall and slim,” police reported.

A month later, on Dec. 14 of last year, the stolen Audi Q5 was found about five miles away in Lower Southampton Township. Police there said they got a call about “a tracked item,” and saw the stolen car parked in front of someone’s home.

Officers waiting for Lower Moreland police to arrive said they saw “Melan Ashton pressing a key fob in his hand, which locked and unlocked the Audi parked at his residence.

“Ashton was observed entering an Uber vehicle, a vehicle stop was initiated, and Ashton attempted to flee on foot from the vehicle but was eventually detained.”

Suspect 'locked and unlocked' stolen car while police watched
Melan Ashton was arrested on Nov. 12, 2023, a year after four reports of thefts from vehicles on Nov. 13, 2022. (Lower Moreland Twp. Police Dept.)

Police said they recovered the fob. They did not say what happened to Ashton.

Fast forward to this year, and they discussed evidence.

On Oct. 23, police said a serology report showed “DNA swabs obtained from the victim’s vehicle provided a profile that matched Melan Ashton.”

Then, on Nov. 12, Ashton, 20, was arrested and charged with eight counts of theft by unlawful taking and four counts of receiving stolen property.

Police made that announcement on Dec. 6.

No word on the other suspects.

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