Taipei police on Thursday morning arrested a man accused of numerous burglaries and at least 14 incidents of sexual assault spanning more than 20 years, in what might be the nation’s most notorious crime spree in recent years.
Sixty-year-old Tu Ming-lang (涂明朗) — who was yesterday placed in judicial detention, after a judge determined he was a flight risk without a fixed address — faces multiple charges of sexual assault and burglary, police said.
A task force comprised of various law enforcement agencies arrested Tu as part of an investigation into an April 28 burglary in Daan District (大安), in which a businessman surnamed Lai (賴) said that NT$5.2 million (US$175,350) in cash was stolen from his residence.
Photo: Chang Wen-chuan, Taipei Times
Police believe Tu was involved in at least 14 burglary and sexual assault cases dating back to 1998. He is among the most wanted suspects in the nation, Daan Police Precinct Chief Fan Chih-kun (范織坤) told a news briefing in Taipei on Thursday, adding that investigators could link him to more cases.
Fan said that Tu had broken into houses or apartments late at night, mostly in Taipei, but some incidents were in Kaohsiung.
Investigators started to connect what they had thought were unrelated cases after upgrades to the Criminal Investigation Bureau’s Forensic Science Center in 2018 helped police link DNA and fingerprint data from various cases in national databases to Tu, Fan said.
After first matching DNA and fingerprints from a 2016 case to a separate incident, investigators were able to link the same suspect to a string of burglaries and sexual assaults from 1998 to 2014, he added.
The connections and the theft last month led to the formation of the task force, which included Daan police and other Taipei police precincts, bureau units and the Yilan County Police Bureau.
Tu would allegedly scout out wealthy families to determine when their homes were empty, and using his agility and athletic build would enter the premises and steal cash and valuable items, Fan said.
Tu allegedly raped women at knifepoint during the burglaries, some of whom were Southeast Asian migrant workers who lived in the homes as caretakers, he said.
“It was difficult to catch Tu, because he is a ‘lone wolf’ type, who operated alone, and lived by camping outside in public parks, abandoned buildings and rural locations,” Fan said, adding that Tu did not have a cellphone and had no contact with other people, including his family.
“He travels by foot or bicycle, staying on the fringe of society. So even for police, it was hard to track him down,” Fan said.
After reviewing hours of surveillance footage and piecing together clues, the task force located Tu in an abandoned building behind a Taipei military compound, he said.
Tu led a group of 30 police officers on a chase through alleys and buildings, and nearly escaped, but was caught when he fell while attempting to scale a concrete wall, Fan said, adding that Tu sustained a head injury in the fall.
Police recovered NT$2.5 million in cash at the site, which they believe was stolen in the Lai burglary last month, Fan said.
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