A Trenton defendant's sentencing in Pennsylvania for a house-burglary spree has its origins in a 2012 burglary probe in Toms River, according to township police.

Christopher Upshur (Bucks Co. District Atty's Office)

Christopher Upshur, 27, is about to begin serving seven-and-a-half to 15 years for his role in a band of thieves that burglarized 18 homes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 2012, according to the Bucks County District Attorney's Office.

According to Pennsylvania authorities, Upshur told the court that his inability to meet the costs of child support, bills and medical care for loved ones left him no choice but to join the group led by his stepfather.

Toms River police spokesman Ralph Stocco pointed out that the initial local investigation led to the development of information that allowed investigators to get a search warrant for Upshur's dwelling in Trenton in October 2012.

There, detectives seized a firefighter's badge and jewelry that tied Upshur to the Pennsylvania heists that continued from July through September 2012 and reaped more than $100,000 in goods and cash, authorities said.

A two-year investigation by Toms River Detectives Rogher Hull and Louis Santora led to the arrests of Upshur and five others, police said.

In November 2016, Upshur pleaded guilty to five burglaries and a home-invasion robbery in in Lower Makefield, Upper Makefield and Middletown Townships in Pennsylvania.

At sentencing, his defense attorney noted that Upshur had no prior criminal record, and no episodes of misconduct during the four years he has been incarcerated.

Pennsylvania prosecutors offered brutal descriptions of some of the Bucks County home invasions.

In one, a 78-year-old woman was pushed to her floor, smothered with pillows, and bound with zip ties so tightly that her hands bled while her engagement ring was pulled off her finger, prosecutors said.

Her husband was also bound until his hands bled, blindfolded, and forced to lead the invaders to stored money, after which he was punched in the face, authorities said. After about a half-hour, they left with $24,750 in cash and jewelry, authorities said.

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