Ex-UFC Fighter Charged in New Jersey Jewelry Theft

CrimeApr 20, 2023

Ex-UFC Fighter Charged in New Jersey Jewelry Theft

Karl Roberson is accused of stealing more than $200,000 worth of jewelry and watches from a childhood friend.

Mixed martial artist Karl Roberson (left) was arrested and charged last month in connection with the home burglary of friend Ryan Leonard (right). (Image courtesy of
Howell, N.J.—Ex-UFC fighter Karl Roberson has been charged with a series of crimes related to a burglary at the home of childhood friend Ryan Leonard in Howell, New Jersey.

According to the Howell Township (N.J.) Police Department, 32-year-old Roberson burglarized the home on West Farms Road with co-conspirator Dathan Thompson, also 32, on Dec. 26, 2022.

Roberson and Thompson are accused of stealing more than $200,000 in “exotic jewelry and valuables.”

In an interview with Fox News, the victim, Leonard, specified that the burglars made off with his $80,000 Rolex Presidential watch, $60,000 worth of Cuban chains, and a $30,000 bracelet, among other items.

Leonard said he’s known Roberson since he was 18 and the fighter was 14, both having grown up in nearby Neptune, New Jersey.

Leonard is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq from 2009 to 2010, and later found success with his product development, sourcing, and supply chain management business NJF Worldwide.

Roberson experienced his own come-up story as a kickboxer-turned-mixed martial artist who earned a coveted spot in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), mixed martial arts’ most celebrated league, in 2017.  

His success, however, had recently taken a turn. 

 Related stories will be right here … 

After a somewhat promising start in the UFC, COVID reschedules, health issues, and a couple of missed weigh-ins seemed to turn the tide for the fighter starting in 2020.

In July 2022, after four consecutive losses, the UFC released Roberson.

Howell Township detectives said they used, “advanced training in technical applications,” as well as cell phone data analysis to investigate the home burglary.

Leonard told Fox News he recognized the pink shoes one of the suspects wore in home surveillance video of the burglary as those of Thompson. He said Thompson had traveled the world with Roberson as his “right-hand man.” 

Despite initially not believing police when they indicated Roberson could be involved, Leonard said he eventually realized the body language of the burglar—who, along with the other suspect, was wearing a hoodie, face mask, and gloves—matched that of his friend. 

“I couldn’t unsee it as much as I wanted to,” Leonard told Fox News. He believes Roberson was able to case the house via before and after images he had sent him while it was being built.  
On March 27, Roberson was arrested during a motor vehicle stop in Neptune. 

Police said he was driving a car associated with the burglary. While searching the vehicle, officers found a “defaced 9 mm handgun with an extended magazine,” suspected packages of crack cocaine, and other items associated with the burglary. 

Roberson has been charged with burglary, theft, criminal mischief, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and several weapons charges. 

Thompson, who was arrested the same day as Roberson without incident at his home, is facing burglary, theft, and criminal mischief charges. 

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