A serial burglar who specialized in cutting through drywall to burglarize empty apartments and businesses received a 24-year prison sentence Friday.
It was a woman who was home in what Andre Blocker thought was an empty apartment that led to prison.
“I was shocked. I was so shocked,” Blocker said Friday, describing his surprise at discovering the tenant last September.
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Jackson County Circuit Judge Bryan Round sentenced Blocker to 24 years on one count each of kidnapping, second-degree robbery and first-degree burglary, to run concurrently. Blocker had pleaded guilty to those charges in June.
The victim had been asleep in her downtown apartment when Blocker opened her bedroom door and said “I’m sorry” before shutting it.
He soon reopened the door and took the victim’s cellphone, jewelry valued at about $6,000 and a laptop computer.
He also said, “I need to tie you up.” After the victim begged Blocker not to do that, he ordered her into a bathroom and tied the door shut by using an alarm clock’s electrical cord.
The victim soon escaped and called police.
Officers found a hole in the wall of the apartment’s guest bedroom. The hole allowed access from a maintenance room and hallway.
Police tracked Blocker through a witness who saw him get into a cab.
Sgt. Mike Foster, Kansas City police central property crimes division supervisor, called Blocker’s burglaries “unique” in how he usually cut through drywall near a doorknob and then would reach in and open the door. He investigated about 13 such burglaries over a period of several weeks, Foster said.
Blocker testified Friday that last September he was being pressured to pay back $4,800 in gambling debts and other debts. To pay them, he burglarized empty apartments and businesses, selling the items that he stole.
Then he broke into the occupied apartment. Blocker said he knocked on the apartment’s door several times before breaking in and surprising the tenant.
“I was torn, but I did the unfortunate thing — I walked back in,” Blocker said. “I was deeply remorseful. I said, ‘I’m not here to harm you. I apologize. I am so, so sorry. I’m between a rock and a hard place.’”
Julie Hamilton, assistant Jackson County prosecutor, asked the judge to impose a 30-year prison sentence, saying: “We haven’t heard any kind of remorse.”
Paige Bremner, assistant public defender, said Blocker took full responsibility for the burglary after being arrested.
“There was no weapon, no injuries, no touching,” Bremner said.
For Blocker’s other burglaries, Round sentenced him to 240 days each on eight counts of burglary, two counts of stealing and one count of property damage, all to be served concurrently.
The victim briefly testified Friday that she wanted to see the maximum sentence imposed.
“This has taken a lot out of me,” she said.