'Ninja Burglar,' suspect in 150 crimes, pleads guilty to 3

ST. GEORGE, Staten Island (WABC) -- The suspect known as the "Ninja Burglar" who is believed to be behind as many as 150 Tri-State Area burglaries over the span of a decade pleaded guilty to three of them Thursday.

Police said 46-year-old Robert Costanzo, of Staten Island, admitted to the burglaries in a detailed videotaped confession recorded over two days. He could only be charged in connection with the trio of incidents because of the statue of limitations.

Costanzo pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree burglary and will receive a sentence of 25 years in prison, to be carried out as concurrent jail terms in Connecticut, New Jersey, Albany County and Saratoga County.

"For 10 years, the residents of Grymes Hill, Emerson Hill, Todt Hill, Lighthouse Hill, Castleton Corners, Silver Lake, West Brighton and Grasmere slept in fear of being burglarized by a brazen thief," District Attorney Michael McMahon said. "Now, they can rest assured knowing that Mr. Costanzo will be securely behind bars."

From May 2007 to January 2008, there were 19 break-ins on Staten Island by a thief described as dressed in all black. Ironically, prosecutors say they cannot definitively link Costanzo to the burglary where the suspect used nunchucks, which is the origin of the "Ninja Burglar" moniker.

He was first taken into custody on May 18, 2015, when he appeared in a Staten Island Court for an unrelated case. He was detained on an extradition warrant from Farmington, Connecticut, for a 2014 home invasion, and has been held in Connecticut since then.

He is also a level 3 sex offender following the rape of a grandmother at knife-point in her Staten Island apartment in 1989. He was convicted of sexual battery in Kissimmee, Florida, in 1996.

Prosecutors say he led a normal life during the tenure crime spree, living with the mother of his child and the child at a Staten Island home.

They believe that over the course of 10 years beginning in 2006, Costanzo committed more than 150 burglaries in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. They believe he stole more than $4 million in cash and goods, and that he sometimes gave the handbags he stole to his family and friends.
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