The prime suspect in a string of robberies in Mt. Airy will stand for his preliminary hearing later this month.

Gary Corbett, 33, from the 7300 block of Devon St., was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in December in relation to five separate strong-arm robberies that occurred in 2013. At the first listing, his attorney, Berto Elmore, asked Judge Wendy Pew to reschedule based on personal reasons.

At the next scheduled court date later that week, Elmore requested a psychiatric evaluation for his client. Corbett found to be competent for trial shortly thereafter.

Elmore was not immediately available for comment.

The incidents

Corbett was arrested in October, facing several dozen charges in connection to five separate incidents in Mt. Airy during October.

The robbery pattern began just after 9 p.m. on Oct. 2, when a complainant was approached on the 7300 block of Devon St. by a man who asked to use her cell phone.

The victim, a 56-year-old woman, screamed for help and was pushed to the ground by the suspect, who took a pocketbook containing an undetermined amount of cash, ID, credit cards and a cellphone, according to police reports.

Then, at 10:20 p.m. Oct. 9, another 56-year-old woman was entering her apartment complex on the 7300 block of Cresheim Road, when someone pulled a black bag off of her shoulder. The bag contained a wallet with credit cards, checks, a cellphone and $100.

On Oct. 12, on the same block as the Oct. 9 robbery, a man was walking in the driveway of his apartment building when he was approached by a black male who began punching him in the left side of his face.

Falling to the ground, the offender told the victim "I'm going to kill you" before taking his wallet, which contained credit cards, ID and $100, police reports stated.

On Oct. 14, on the 7500 block of Boyer St. There, a victim walking home from the Devon Street train station was approached from behind by a robber who grabbed both of her arms and pushed her down, causing the back of her head to hit the pavement. A struggle ensued over victim's belongings, but the suspect made off with a tan purse containing credit cards, ID and $80 cash.

Corbett was arrested following a robbery which occurred on the 7400 block of Boyer St. at 11 p.m. on Oct. 16.
Police reports of the previous cases suggest that while no weapon was used, physical force was involved in the majority of the incidents.

The arrest

Capt. John Fleming, commanding officer of the 14th Police District, said assigning extra officers to the area helped lead to the arrest.

"Our deployment was heavy, but in an inconspicuous way," he said in October. "Based off of his M.O., we happened to be in the right place at the right time."

Once a pattern was suspected, additional patrol resources were assigned to the area where the robberies were occurring. A decoy officer disguised as a potential victim in the area was also utilized.

On the night of his arrest, a couple of plainclothes officers noticed Corbett. They then followed and arrested him in the area of Chestnut Hill Hospital. He ultimately confessed to detectives, police said.

Police learned that he was using nearby train tracks to escape the crime scenes. By the time officers arrived, Corbett was safely home at an apartment he shared with his girlfriend only blocks away from the incidents.

Corbett is being charged with five counts of each of robbery, terroristic threats, theft, receiving stolen property, simple assault and reckless endangerment. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 27.