Pulse: Chatter: Crime: To Catch a Thief

Between January and October of 1997, a cat-footed burglar scaled the trellises and drainpipes of some tony Main Line homes to plunder their safes and jewelry boxes. So brazen was the thief — he often pulled off his crimes while entire families were eating dinner, oblivious, downstairs — that he was quickly dubbed “The Dinnertime Bandit.”


Between January and October of 1997, a cat-footed burglar scaled the trellises and drainpipes of some tony Main Line homes to plunder their safes and jewelry boxes. So brazen was the thief — he often pulled off his crimes while entire families were eating dinner, oblivious, downstairs — that he was quickly dubbed “The Dinnertime Bandit.”

The bandit’s take from his dozen daring Main Line forays was estimated to be well in the six figures, including one haul of jewels worth more than $200,000. But now his run is over.

Alan Golder, a ne’er-do-well from Long Island and still lithe at the age of 52, was recently extradited to the U.S. after being captured in Europe; he currently faces about 40 felony counts ­related to two dozen burglaries in Connecticut. Golder is also believed to have boosted baubles from various other locales, including the Kennedy family estate in Palm Beach and Johnny Carson’s Beverly Hills manse.

But local victims will have to get their satisfaction vicariously: With little supporting evidence and an expired statute of limitations, Golder will likely never stand trial for any of the sticky-fingered crimes he’s believed to have committed, all within a mile of each other in Haverford and all spectacularly audacious. “Very rarely do we find burglaries where the perpetrator doesn’t care that someone is home,” says Lieutenant Frank Higgins, of the Lower Merion Police Department. “Here is someone who waited for everyone to get home.”

The bandit struck at the dinner hour to avoid tripping alarms. Dressed in black ninja-style garb, he’d use a screwdriver to quietly pop out windowpanes, and once inside put his good taste and knowledgeable eye to work — bypassing cheap stuff for creations by Harry Winston and Fabergé. Then he’d jog, fit as a fox, to a getaway car often parked miles away. He was the kind of criminal for whom even a cop would have to betray a grudging respect. “He was strong,” admits Higgins. “A good climber.”