Todd Kapcsos, of Johnstown, was in court Wednesday to waive his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of loitering, prowling at night and disorderly conduct.
Police said Kapcsos frightened some elderly residents who saw him sneaking around while carrying a black baseball bat and wearing a hooded sweatshirt, another long shirt, a mask and a pair of gloves - all of them black.
He contends he was just trying to help police catch bad guys.
"I dressed up in all black, snuck around, went through bushes," Kapcsos told a local television station. He claimed to be practicing "ninja moves" including rolling into a ball so he'd appear to be a rock hidden in the shadows.
"There's not enough police officers," he said. "The community should do something rather than sit back.
But one neighbor, Chris Trevino, told the TV station, "It looked more like he was trying to break into homes, not like he was gonna be a ninja and save the world."
That night, July 15, Trevino saw Kapcsos "running like a ninja, not like a normal person jogging. He was going back and forth creeping."
So she called the police.
"The ninja ran across the alley and right into the arms of a police officer," Trevino said.
Kapcsos was lurking in the Moxham section of Johnstown, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. Several high-profile crimes have occurred in the neighborhood in recent months, including three of the city's five homicides. The last one occurred Aug. 6 - a stabbing at a car wash - about three weeks after Kapcsos was arrested.