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Blowtorch Burglar's Getaway Driver Was Asleep at the Wheel, Cops Say

The suspects tried to get into the back of a house on 63rd Street in Woodside on Memorial Day using a blowtorch, authorities said.
The suspects tried to get into the back of a house on 63rd Street in Woodside on Memorial Day using a blowtorch, authorities said.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

WOODSIDE — If you snooze, you lose.

The getaway driver for a Queens burglary suspect who tried to break into a house using a blowtorch was spotted sleeping at the wheel while his accomplice tried to dash away from cops, authorities said.

The ill-timed catnap landed Jefferson Villarama in cuffs after the Memorial Day break-in on 63rd Street in Woodside, while his alleged accomplice managed to make a temporary getaway, police said.

According to cops, the lethargic larcenist and his partner, Michael Natindim, who are suspected of being linked to at least a dozen burglaries in the area, tried to break into the home on Memorial Day using a blowtorch in broad daylight.

Natindim, 34, tried to get into the house about 1:15 p.m. using the blowtorch to go through a window, the NYPD said. In the meantime, the drowsy driver waited in the getaway car.

When the homeowner came back unexpectedly, he spotted Natindim on a ladder at one of his windows, trying to open it with a blow torch, according to the criminal complaint.

The owner ran outside and started chasing the suspect, who bolted toward a 2011 red Kia Sedan parked nearby, the complaint said.

Natindim opened the car’s door and ditched the torch inside, but the driver was sleeping, cutting short their getaway options, according to court documents.

Responding officers arrested Villarama on the spot, cops said. According to authorities, the car was full of stolen goods from other heists, including a laptop computer, jewelry, watches, phones and credit cards.

Officers also found eight ziplock bags containing a substance that cops said was possibly cocaine, hidden underneath a spare tire inside the trunk.

Natindim was arrested on Tuesday at his Elmhurst apartment and charged with burglary, cops said.

According to the criminal complaint, Villarama told officers that he and his accomplice had worked out a system that they used to break into homes:

They allegedly drove around and would watch people leave their homes. Then they wrote down the address, and one of them would get out and ring the doorbell to make sure no one was home, the document said.

Villarama was arraigned on May 30 before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll on 13 different criminal complaints charging him with burglary in the second degree, criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and possession of burglar’s tools, among other charges.

One of the alleged incidents occurred only about 12 hours before the one on 63rd Street. Around 1:45 a.m. on May 25, the suspects allegedly broke into a house in Maspeth when the residents were sleeping and stole their credit cards and cell phone.

Villarama was held without bail and is due back in court on June 13.