Admitted burglar surrenders at Philly TV station

WYNNEFIELD HEIGHTS - August 30, 2012

Police in Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County had been looking for the man who had been burglarizing gas stations.

On Monday, we aired surveillance footage of the crimes. Then, on Thursday afternoon, an extraordinary thing happened: a 41-year-old man came to our 6abc studios on City Avenue here in Philadelphia, saying that he is the guy in the footage and wanted to turn himself in.

"I basically came here to turn myself in to the proper authorities because I did something and I'm regretting it," the man said.

His name is Anthony Thomas of the West Oak Lane section of the city. He says his mother was watching Action News on Monday and saw the surveillance footage of the burglaries from last week of the Gulph Mills Sunoco and the Exxon stations on Henderson and South Gulph Roads.

Police said the burglar smashed windows and then stole cigarettes and lottery tickets.

Thomas says the guy in the video looked very familiar to his mother and she called him to say this:

"My mother told me she seen it. And she told me that I better turn myself in because if I don't do so, she was going to do it."

"I just want to apologize to the people of Upper Merion for the crime I did," he added, "and to my mother and my family for disrespecting them, disappointing them."

We asked Thomas if he was the guy responsible, why did he do it?

"When you got these drugs inside of you, you're not thinking straight, you'll do anything for that," he said.

Before Thomas was taken into custody by police, he told us he's not a career criminal. We checked, and he does not have a record. He says he's a decent person with a drug problem. He showed us pictures of his favorite hobby: making sand sculptures down at the Jersey shore.

"I felt like coming in," he told us. "Channel 6, it would be easier, maybe they'd get it, give people a chance to look at me and see something inside of me, other than this bad stuff."

Southwest detectives in Philadelphia interviewed the man and said he has, in fact, no criminal history, and that he is prepared to confess to Montgomery County detectives.

On Friday morning, Upper Merion police told Action News that Thomas had been formally charged with burglary, theft and related offenses.

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