Suspect in crime spree arrested after Layton officer happens upon burglary in progress

Posted at 2:45 PM, Sep 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-11 16:45:57-04

LAYTON, Utah -- Layton Police stumbled upon a huge break in a months-long case involving burglaries at nearly two dozen businesses.

Officers finally caught the suspected burglar red-handed Friday morning after he allegedly threw a rock through the window of Holy Smoke BBQ.

Owner Jeff Ray arrived to work about 15 minutes after the ordeal.

"I could see that the window had broken," Ray said. "I wasn't sure what had happened."

He said the freshly broken glass on his front door still crackled and snapped as he arrived. The restaurant's surveillance camera caught the suspect in action.

"You could see the rock come through the window, land on the floor," he said, describing the footage. "He had a pretty good pitching arm, because the rock went quite far through the building."

According to police, that pitching arm belongs to 40-year-old Lowell Pagano. They think he's burglarized more than 20 businesses in the area since May.

"There have been several here in Layton and Clearfield both," Lt. Travis Lyman said. "It's picked up quite a bit and escalated recently."

Down the street from Holy Smoke, Moe's just went through the same rock-through-the-window ordeal on Wednesday.

"He tried to open up and jimmy rig the register drawer," District Manager Jake Nordahl said. "It wouldn't open, so he just took the whole thing. Just ripped it all off, cut the cords, and was gone."

Pagano made off with about $200, court documents allege, and caused hundreds more in damages.

While they've only racked up charges and losses for eight businesses, Lt. Lyman said detectives are reviewing Pagano's connection to other cases. They estimate he's made off with thousands of dollars total.

It all came to a halt at Holy Smoke, when an officer passed by shortly after Pagano allegedly threw that rock through the window. According to court documents, Pagano denied everything except admitting he was riding a stolen bike.

While Moe's and Holy Smoke shelled out hundreds to fix the damages, all is back to normal.

Ray even decided to put a positive spin and host a caption contest on Facebook for his picture of the broken door.

Dozens of people wrote clever responses, even creating memes. Holy Smoke handed out gift cards to the winners with the best captions.