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Police: Tipsters key in catching 'rooftop burglars'

Libirio Carlisle and Dontiez Pendegrass

Libirio Carlisle and Dontiez Pendegrass

NORCROSS — Anonymous tipsters helped lead police to a pair of Norcross men they believe are behind a string of rooftop burglaries at Jimmy Carter Boulevard businesses.

Gwinnett police on Thursday arrested Dontiez Pendergrass, 23, and Libirio Carlisle, 18, in the burglary spree that began Jan. 26.

Police said the duo’s M.O. was to breach the roofs of businesses — via air-conditioning units or cooking vents — and pilfer cash registers and vending machines before leaving via ground-level doors. They are accused of targeting five Hispanic grocery stores and restaurants throughout January and February.

Surveillance footage of each incident showed the two suspects wearing the same distinct clothing, said Cpl. Jake Smith, Gwinnett police spokesman.

Authorities believe the suspects had a brush with officers on Monday, when police conducting an area check at Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Britt Road saw people dart from behind a dumpster, then quickly disappear in nearby woods.

Investigators believe it was the same rooftop burglars who’ve hit the Omely Café (on Jan. 26), La Conifianza Carniceria (Jan. 28), Carmelitas Mexicana grocery store (Feb. 1), El Tapatio Supermercado (Feb. 7) and Han Cafe (Feb. 22).

Anonymous callers pointed detectives toward the suspects after seeing and reading media stories, Smith said.

Police and SWAT team members executed a search warrant at the Green Hill Drive where both suspects were located.

Moments prior to executing the warrant, Pendergrass drove away from the residence, and police pulled him over. He fled on foot but was located and arrested with the help of K-9 and aviation units, Smith said.

The second suspect, Carlisle, was located inside the residence and arrested.

Smith said evidence from the rooftop burglary series was located inside the residence, as well as tools commonly used in burglaries. The distinct clothing seen in surveillance footage was also located, he said.

Pendergrass was charged with a brake light violation, driving with a suspended/revoked license, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, giving a false name, escape, one count of burglary, and for active warrants in reference to probation violations and failure to appear.

Carlisle was booked on one count of burglary.

Detectives expect to lodge four additional warrants for burglary against Pendergrass and Carlisle.

“The possibility of these suspects’ involvement in other crimes is still

under investigation,” Smith said.