A combination of convictions and guilty pleas for a $2,000,000-plus burglary spree through Burlington and Camden Counties lands a onetime prison escapee from Medford back in stir for eight to 17 years.

Darius Gittens (Burlington Co. Dept. of Corrections)

Darius Gittens, 57, was sentenced Friday in Burlington County Superior Court, and ordered to serve eight years before parole eligibility, according to the office of Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi.

The sentence reflects convictions and guilty pleas for 28 charges, including four second-degree theft counts, 23 third-degree charges of burglary, and a third-degree attempted-burglary count.

Bernardi labeled Gittens a "sophisticated career criminal," who "familiarized himself with the patrol patterns of local police departments in Burlington and Camden Counties," learning the habits of home owners and ensuring that the homes he entered were unoccupied

Starting on the night of Halloween 2011, and continuing into August 2012, 21 houses were ransacked in Medford, Evesham, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Haddonfield and Voorhees. Gittens was arrested September 5, 2012.

Investigators said that targeted homes were in well-to-do areas, near golf courses, or on wooded lots with minimal views, and usually secluded from direct sight of neighboring properties.

Detectives found phone and alarm wires cut at each house, and in most instances a smashed rear-entry sliding door. Investigators said that Gittens monitored emergency communications with a police-band radio.

Jewelry, watches, furs, coins, crystal, silverware, handbags, firearms, camera equipment and electronics were repeatedly reported stolen. Camden authorities became involved when similarities were established in both jurisdictions.

Authorities said that Gittens's DNA was found on a flashlight abandoned during a Moorestown burglary, sending investigators on a path that led to surveillance and analysis of more than 9,000 phone calls and texts.

More than 500 items were recovered, many were pawned, some were buried in Gittens's yard and others were stashed in an abandoned building in Philadelphia, investigators said.

Previously convicted of thefts and burglaries in California, Florida and New York, Gittens manage to briefly flee Sing Sing State Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY, in 1986, reportedly scaling a 20-foot wall and dodging a warning shot fired from a guard tower before being captured three hours later on railroad tracks about a quarter-mile away.

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