Akron police search for serial thief after community helps identify suspect

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 10:22 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2023 at 10:30 PM EST
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AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - Akron police are searching for a serial thief. 19 News spoke with his most recent victim.

Lorenzo Butts said the crook hit his home in the middle of the day when he was at work. First, the man went onto Butt’s back porch and grabbed a hammer, and used it to break into his garage.

“He used a hammer to break the corner of the glass reached his hand in far enough to grab the latch on the inside and that opened everything,” Butts explained.

Butts was at work when this man hit his Massillon Road home on Tuesday. Thanks to his home security system, Butts was able to watch the thief steal from him in real time.

“My heart just went in my throat, and I was shocked, and I thought I need to get home as soon as I can as well as call the police, worst feeling ever,” Butts said.

Akron police believe the thief is 50-year-old John Lazar. They have a warrant out for his arrest for breaking and entering. The community was able to help Butts quickly ID the crook hours after he shared his surveillance photos on Facebook.

“Not only is he well known for his crimes but lots of people have seen him walking around the area along East Market Street, Arlington and they knew right away who he was just hours after I posted,” Butts said.

19 News has learned Lazar has been convicted of breaking and entering dozens of times. We even did a story about the same break-in bandit back in 2010. His criminal record goes back to 1994 and almost every year since Lazar was arrested for everything from theft to burglary to drug abuse, criminal mischief, receiving stolen property, and misuse of a credit card.

“It’s awful,” said Butts. “I wish sentences were longer for things like that but I realize the jails are full of a lot worse things too which makes it difficult.”

Lazar stole Butts’ bicycle, two cases of tools, and a civil war reenactment sword.

“Both the sword and my bicycle were my grandparents quite a while ago, so it does have monetary value but also sentimental reasons you know I wanted to hold on to those.”

In Butt’s surveillance video, Lazar can be seen smiling and waving at the camera.

“It means that absolutely nothing would stop him from doing it again to other people, so he needs to be put away for as long as possible.”

If you know where authorities can locate Lazar, contact Akron police.