That name may sound familiar to Lakewood residents. In August 2016, Walker was arrested and charged with breaking into and robbing 15 Lakewood homes in a robbery string that netted him over $2 million in stolen proceeds and terrorized local residents for months.
The arrest was the result of a yearlong investigation by Lakewood PD, assisted by the Lakewood Civilian Safety Watch.
Walker, 38-years-old of Willingboro New Jersey, was charged with committing the 15 burglaries between June and November 2015.
Walker was very good at what he did – breaking into people’s homes and taking their stuff. He was extremely methodical and seemed very well aware of people’s schedules, knowing exactly when to break into houses when owners were away – even if they only left for a short while. He was such a professional thief that he even had special gear that he customized to help him in his heists. For example, he had a contraption installed on his car that automatically covered his license plate with the press of a button. This way, he managed to avoid having his car identified by surveillance cameras in the areas of his break-ins.
Some of the robberies that Walker committed include: On June 13th, 2015, a Seton Circle home was forcibly entered through a rear sliding glass door. Proceeds taken were jewelry, electronics, cash and a firearm all valued in excess of $25,000 were taken from the residence.
On July 16th, 2015 an Adelaide Place home was forcibly entered through the rear window. Proceeds taken during the burglary were jewelry, cash, designer wear and electronics all valued in excess of $275,000.00.
On July 29th, 2015 a West Kennedy Boulevard home was entered by forcibly shattering out a rear sliding door. Proceeds taken were jewelry, cash and electronics all valued in excess of $17,000.00. In addition, a Martin Street home was also burglarized that same date. Entry was made by shattering the rear sliding door.
Proceeds taken during the burglary were cash, designer wear and designer handbags and belts. All valued in excess in $120,000.00.
On August 8th, 2015 a Malka Way home was forcibly entered by shattering a rear basement window. Proceeds taken during the burglary were jewelry, cash, religious artwork and artifacts all totaling in excess of $800,000.
On August 21st, 2015 a Parkside Drive home was forcibly entered by shattering a rear basement window. Proceeds taken during the burglary were jewelry, cash, silver tableware, silver candlesticks, assorted silver pieces, designer wear and designer shoes all valued in excess of $78,000.00.
Also, on August 21st, 2015 a Cedar Row home was forcibly entered through a garage door being forced open. Proceeds taken during the burglary were silver candelabra, religious artifacts, silver flatware and dinnerware, jewelry, designer wear and cash all valued in excess of $330,000.00.
Sometime between October 16th and October 17th, 2015 a Gudz Road home was entered through a rear window. Proceeds taken were jewelry and cash valued in excess of $10,000.00.
Between October 16th and October 17th a Hope Chapel Road home was entered through a first floor window. Proceeds taken were jewelry valued in excess of $15,000.
On October 20th, 2015 an Old Whitesville Road home was burglarized by forcibly breaking a basement window. Proceeds taken were silver candelabras, religious artifacts, silver tableware, silver flatware, jewelry and electronics all totaling in excess of $30,000.00.
On October 23rd, 2015 West Countyline Road home was burglarized by forcibly breaking a rear sliding glass door. Proceeds taken were jewelry and cash valued in excess of $16,000.00.
Between October 23rd and October 25th, 2015 a Gudz Road home was burglarized after forced entry was made to a rear door. Proceeds taken were silver candelabras, trays, dishes, religious artifacts, assorted pieces a silver and jewelry all valued in excess of $41,000.00.
Between October 23rd and October 26th, 2015, a Clearstream Road home was forcibly entered by breaking a rear basement window. Proceeds taken were numerous assorted pieces of silver valued in excess of $85,000.
Between November 6th and November 7th a Colonial Drive home was burglarized after forcibly making entry through a rear door. Proceeds taken during the burglary were silver plates, religious artifacts, candelabras, tableware, flatware and jewelry all valued in excess of $215,000.00.
One of Walker’s victims was none other than Lakewood’s police chief at the time, Chief Rob Lawson. Walker brazenly broke into the chief’s home and stole valuables. He also stole a firearm he found locked up and secured in the house! The weapon has never been recovered.
And now, this dangerous criminal has been released without posting the $250,000 bail that was originally ordered for him. Walker’s release came about after his attorney was able to convince a judge to switch his case from the regular criminal court to the drug court system – basically excusing his major crimes under the pretext that he cannot be held fully accountable for his actions because he was under the influence of drugs and was desperate to get money to feed his addiction.
He was then released on bail under New Jersey’s new bail reform law, which is extremely lenient for drug offenders. His release was on the condition that he enter a drug rehab program.
The bail reform law, known as the “Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act”, was officially enacted on Jan. 1 of this year, and aimed to decrease jail populations by eliminating bail in all cases where the defendant is deemed to be not dangerous to society. Thousands of criminals have been released without bail since the law went into effect.
The law came after bail reform activists lobbied for it, claiming the bail system was unfair to the poor who could not afford to pay what wealthier people could to get out of jail while awaiting trial. The law was attacked almost immediately by members of the law enforcement community for its ambiguity and leniency for criminals. A resolution was passed by the Ocean County Association of Chiefs of Police in March which called the new law dangerous, onerous and fiscally disastrous because of the costs involved in policing the released criminals. The Association pointed out that bail reform was not meant as a “get out of jail free card”, but it is being used as such by many courts.
There have been numerous documented cases where criminals were allowed out of jail under the law, despite clear evidence that they were a risk to violate their free bail. Walker clearly seems to fit the category of a dangerous criminal, which leads one to wonder why a judge would allow his release. He had in fact been arrested multiple times before his break-in spree in Lakewood, and has a history of violating his bail. There is no reason to think he won’t do it again.
In a conversation with The Shopper, retired Chief Lawson related, “The bail reform law was intended only to allow for the release of those who committed minor offenses and have no money to post bail. It was not intended for those who committed serious offenses. And, in my opinion, Barry Walker committed plenty of serious offenses. He certainly has shown that he has a very like chance of recidivism. He has been arrested lots of times in lots of townships for burglary, so, in my opinion, letting him out is a travesty. He was actually out on bail when he committed the burglaries in Lakewood. He has shown a propensity to do burglary after burglary even while on bail. You’re going to let this guy go? To my mind that’s ludicrous! That’s really an abuse of this new bail reform system.
“He did a lot of damage in our town. He stole millions of dollars and broke into many houses. In my house, he stole a loaded .357 magnum revolver, which was never recovered. The gun was locked up and secured and he broke into the drawer to get it. G-d only knows potentially who could be hurt with that.”
Before Walker was released, Chief Lawson’s wife, Mrs. Jan Lawson, wrote a letter to the judge, as well as to the prosecutor’s office, urging them to do whatever is in their power not to let him out. She mentioned that the whereabouts of the gun is one of her biggest concerns. It is possible that Walker sold it on the street for drug money, but it’s also possible he hid it somewhere and may retrieve it.
Current LPD Chief Greg Meyer agreed that Walker should not have been released under any bail reform law. He told The Shopper, “I did not get official word yet that Walker has been released, but he definitely should not be let out. We certainly don’t want him back out on the streets.”
There is a precedent to revoke the bail of a criminal released under the bail reform law. The Ocean County Association of Chiefs of Police was especially vocal about the release of Christopher Wilson, of Little Egg Harbor Township, a serial dangerous offender. In addition to the Association, protests were issued to Wilson’s release by the Police
Department in Little Egg Harbor Township, and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. The case went all the way to the State Supreme Court before, finally, his bail was revoked and he was taken back to prison.
Hopefully, the outcry over Walker’s release will lead to a similar outcome.
[TLS – report provided by the Lakewood Shopper]