GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A cigarette butt tied a New York man to a string of break-ins that targeted Asian households around the country, including in West Michigan, court documents show.

Jhon Jairo Munoz-Lopera, 34, of College Point in the New York City borough of Queens, is accused of breaking into three West Michigan homes in July 2020 and stealing $150,000 in clothing, jewelry and cash.

Ali Ngo, then 19, was in his parents’ house when it was broken into. He hid in a closet.

“I was terrified. Insanely terrified,” Ngo recalled. “He was searching the living room, the kitchen, my parents’ room and eventually he went into my room.”

Ngo said once Munoz-Lopera realized the home was not empty, he ran away without actually stealing anything.

“I wasn’t thinking they would catch him ever,” Ngo said.

Another home in Byron Township was broken into around that same time, court document show. Neighbors told police they noticed a black Infiniti SUV parked nearby. They said the driver threw his used cigarette out the window.

Investigators found that cigarette butt. That yielded a DNA sample and a hit on Munoz-Lopez in the FBI’s national database.

As detectives kept investigating, they realized Munoz-Lopera was part of a bigger ring responsible for at least seven other similar home invasions around the country, all targeting victims of Asian descent. In all, the suspects stole more than a million dollars in cash, clothing and jewelry.

Munoz-Lopera is charged with criminal enterprises, first-degree home invasion and second-degree home invasion. He’s expected in court in Wyoming on Wednesday.