UPDATE 3/6/13 @ 1 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The suspect in a recent string of Charleston apartment burglaries now faces federal charges.
Gregory Fugate was indicted earlier this week on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the indictment, Fugate was found with several guns in his possession in late February.
Fugate was found guilty 10 years ago on burglary charges in Kentucky.
Charleston Police say they are still looking into if Fugate was involved with more than 20 apartment burglaries at the Greenbrier Apartments.
Gregory Fugate of Charleston was arrested Friday morning. Police say he may be responsible for about 20 burglaries at the Greenbrier Apartments during the past two months.
They say Fugate is a former maintenance man at the apartments and likely gained access through continued use of a master key.
"If you happen to live in any apartment complex and there's reason to believe your lock has been compromised, you should immediately contact the management of your facility," Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper said.
Fugate was on parole after serving jail time. He was previously convicted of burglarizing apartments in Kentucky.
He has not yet been charged in connection with the Greenbrier burglaries but was arrested Friday on a firearms violation.
"I think that's kind of a wake-up call that background checks are really important," Greenbrier tenant Lois Cruz said. "It's worrying to know that a maintenance person would be breaking into people's apartments."
Apartment managers say they do conduct background checks on employees, but only through Kanawha County.
His cash-only bond was set at $50,000.
Charleston Police say Gregory Fugate is the suspect wanted for questioning after more than a dozen units at the Greenbrier Apartments have been burglarized since January. Four units also have been burglarized at the apartments this week.
Fugate was being investigated for his part in a burglary at the Belvedere Apartments in October when the recent string began.
Maintenance man Timothy Boggs pleaded guilty to receiving or transferring stolen goods in the October burglary. Police say Boggs denied stealing jewelry from the unit and said Fugate was to blame.
Both the Belvedere and Greenbrier apartments are managed by Apartment Management Services. The company manages about 20 properties throughout West Virginia.
"We are currently seeking Mr. Fugate to question him," Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper said. "But we are asking anyone who has seen him at any of these facilities within the last year or so to please give us a call."
Charleston Police say Fugate has prior arrests for burglary in Kentucky.
Irene Melis, general manager of Apartment Management Services, said potential employees' criminal records are checked in Kanawha County. That means someone with an arrest elsewhere could bypass the criminal records check when he or she is hired.
Melis said management plans to change the locks in the Greenbrier complex by Friday.
Until then, neighbors are being warned to keep jewelry, cash and prescription medications out of the apartments until the new locks are installed.
More than a dozen apartments have been burglarized in the Greenbrier apartment complex within the last two months, and police say four units were burglarized Monday.
"You're supposed to be in a safe neighborhood, and it's not safe at all," said Phillip Gamble, who just moved his girlfriend into a Greenbrier apartment.
A couple whose home was broken into and didn't want to be named said when they returned home from vacation, everything appeared normal and their doors were locked.
It wasn't until the couple noticed their jewelry was missing that they realized they had been robbed.
"I don't really mind how much [the jewelry] is, it's just they were very important to me," she said.
Police say in every reported case, there are no signs of the intruder forcibly breaking into the apartment.
"None of these burglaries have had forced entries," Charleston Police Lt. Steve Cooper said. "So we are investigating it as if someone had a key, the master key."
Property owners say they are aware of the crimes and do not suspect an employee is involved in the burglaries.They plan to change all the locks throughout the complex and are encouraging neighbors to create a neighborhood watch group .
Police say they now have a lead in the case and hope to make an arrest soon.
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