A Galloway Township man who served as curator for the Egg Harbor City Historical Society has been arrested after an investigation into at least 70 commercial burglaries in Camden County dating to 2013.
Dennis M. Niceler, 56, of the 200 block of West White Horse Pike, was arrested at his home Jan. 25, said a post on the Haddon Township Police Department’s Facebook page.
In Haddon Township, Camden County, Niceler is charged with burglary- and theft-related offenses, but other agencies are in the process of charging him as well, police Capt. Scott Bishop said.
Niceler was housed at the Camden County jail but has been released, Bishop said.
Mark Maxwell, president of the historical society, said he was shocked by the number of burglaries in which Niceler is charged.
“We were completely shocked and taken aback,” he said. “It’s going to be a loss to the people that research at the museum.”
Maxwell said Niceler was an administrator who grew the Facebook page and contributed historical knowledge to the museum.
“It’s going to be a loss to the historical community as a whole,” he added.
Hazel Mueller, a society trustee, said Niceler worked on her Egg Harbor City Council campaign in 2016 and she was “totally shocked.”
“He knows a lot of history,” she said. “He gave a lot of time, energy and donations to our historical society. I never, ever, ever would have thought.”
Similarities between overnight burglaries at Giumarello’s Restaurant on Haddon Avenue and the Taproom & Grill on West Crystal Lake Avenue in Haddon Townsihp in 2016 kicked off the investigation, police said on Facebook.
The suspect left no evidence behind, but Giumarello’s Restaurant’s surveillance showed he wore a ski mask and gloves while spending “a significant amount of time on scene,” police said.
Detective Sgt. Joseph Johnston and Detectives Mark Pagano and Timothy Hak began tracking similar burglaries in South Jersey and identified numerous open cases they thought were committed by the same suspect.
“Each and every burglary was committed utilizing the same modus operandi,” the Facebook post said.
Niceler was arrested Christmas Eve by Gloucester Township police after jumping off the roof of Laurel Hill Plaza in Camden County. Gloucester Township police Lt. Jason Gittens said one of the business owners heard Niceler on the roof and called police.
“That night, he was charged with resisting arrest, possession burglary tools and trespassing,” Gittens said. “He was released on a summons.”
“That arrest in Gloucester Township broke it open,” Bishop said, explaining the similarities between surveillance photos and videos led detectives to make the connections.
After that arrest, police from Haddon and Gloucester townships obtained search warrants for Niceler’s car and electronic devices, as well as his Galloway Township home.
Police said Niceler was methodical, including using Facebook photos, virtual tours and online maps to research his targets, even learning the location of some alarm panels and safes.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police Real Times Crime Center South and police from Gloucester and Berlin townships and Berlin Borough assisted with the investigation.
“With the arrest of this suspect, business owners throughout South Jersey can rest a little easier knowing he will hopefully be out of commission,” police said on Facebook.