A man arrested Wednesday night for allegedly breaking into a near east side vending machine was arrested numerous times in the past for the same crime.
Earnest Vasser III, 40, no permanent address, was tentatively charged with entry into a locked coin box, criminal damage to property and possession of drug paraphernalia, Madison police said in a news release.
The alleged vending machine break-in was reported at 10:46 p.m. Wednesday in front of Scooter Therapy, Inc., 12 N. Few St.
According to police, someone saw Vasser using a metal rod to pry open a vending machine. Police were called and arrived within minutes, making the arrest while Vasser was walking away from the scene.
Damage to the vending machine was estimated at $800.
"He claimed he didn't know what was going on and that he didn't do anything wrong," said police spokesman Joel DeSpain.
A crack pipe was found in a pocket of a jacket Vasser was wearing. "He said the coat belonged to a friend," DeSpain said.
According to court records, Vasser was arrested and found guilty of similar break-ins in September 2003, twice in December 2003 and in May 2006.
Police said there have been more than two dozen vending machine break-ins in Madison since the start of 2012.
"At this time, Mr. Vasser has only been connected to Wednesday night's crime," DeSpain said.