Sunday, 05 January 2003 18:00

Candy Machine Thief

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F A L L S T O W N S H I P, Pa. ? It looks like police have cracked the "Gumball Bandit" case.

"We know who did it," said Detective Charles T. Burdick of the Middletown Township police.

A surveillance operation led to the arrest of Aaron Ozlek on Saturday, Dec. 14. He was initially held on parole violation charges, but police said he would soon be charged in the string of attacks on area candy machines.

Evidence "related to the bubblegum burglaries was recovered" in Ozlek's home, police said in a statement.

In the course of several weeks in November and December, 26 gumball and candy dispensers were hit. The thief sometimes took the entire machines and sometimes just the change inside

In one incident, the Gumball Bandit smashed a service station's plate-glass window, causing $1,800 worth of damage, in order to get at the sweets machine.

The candy-craving criminal also hit machines in the lobby of Redner's Warehouse Market in Middletown Township, at the Hong Luck Chinese restaurant on Route 413, and also at East Penn Automotive in Langhorne.

Police say the bandit really had a taste for money, not sweets, even though he ignored other valuable items when he took the candy machines.

"He wanted the cash essentially," said Burdick. "There can be a nice chunk of change in there."

Nevertheless, despite the arrest of Ozlek, many gumballs remain unaccounted for.

"We never recovered any," admitted Burdick.
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