Police say the modus operandi of a three-member burglary team that allegedly operated throughout the area was pretty simple.
Two members – one who worked for a trash collection firm and the other who delivered newspapers – looked for vacant houses. The third member utilized a computer to determine if the houses were up for sale.
Then, they allegedly broke into the homes, stealing anything from furniture to tools to pictures off the wall to copper wiring. They even stole heating oil from the fuel tanks in the empty residences, police said.
Charges were filed Thursday by both Summit Hill and Nesquehoning Police Departments against Kerry Frank, 30, of East Ludlow Street , Summit Hill; Frederick Postie, 40, of Fairview Street, Tamaqua, and Stephanie Keck, 33, of E. Catawissa St., Nesquehoning.
They were arraigned before District Judge Casimir T. Kosciolek of Lansford and lodged in Carbon County Prison in lieu of $20,000 cash bail.
Earlier this week, the trio was arrested by Rush Township Police and charged with involvement in burglaries in that township.
More charges may be pending, said Summit Hill Chief of Police Joseph Fittos.
Meanwhile, Postie already has a date in Carbon County Court on other theft charges. He had been charged with stealing 13 iPhones from Wal-Mart in Mahoning Township during a brazen incident last July 22. The phones have a value of $8,254. Township police said the alleged theft was a smash-and-grab in the middle of the night.
Fittos said it was a joint investigation and a tip from a citizen when broke up the burglary ring.
Police investigators who teamed up to end the spree, said Fittos, were Officer Lori Lienhard of the Summit Hill Police Department, Detective Lee Marzen of the Jim Thrpe Police Department, Detective Tim Wuttke of the Nesquehoning Police Department, and Sgt. Duane Frederick of the Rush Township Police Department.
The Lehigh Township Police Department in Northampton County was also involved in the probe.
Fittos said some of the recovered stolen items were identified through photos taken by realtors who had homes for sale.
Fittos alleged that Keck would drop Frank and Postie off at locations with the oil barrels, and then return to pick them up.
Most of the homes the individuals allegedly entered were unoccupied at the time. Three were entered in the White Bear area.
Damages to one home which was entered totaled over $60,000, said Fittos.
Summit Hill Police charged Frank and Keck each with four counts of burglary, four counts of criminal trespass to break into structure, three counts of criminal mischief, three counts of theft by unlawful taking, three counts of receiving stolen property, four counts of conspiracy to commit burglary.
Nesquehoning Police filed the following charges against Postie and Frank:
Ÿ Two counts of conspiracy to commit burglary, two counts of burglary, two counts of theft by unlawful taking, two counts of receiving stolen property, one count of criminal mischief, and three counts of criminal trespass.
All are felony charges.
Keck was charged by Nesquehoning Police with two counts of conspiracy and two counts of receiving stolen property.
Fittos urged that individuals whose homes are vacant or who live in isolated areas protect themselves with alarm systems.
He also urged anyone seeing anything suspicious to notify police immediately.
"Sometimes people wait two or three days to call the police," he said. "By then it's too late. We should be called immediately."
Preliminary hearings are scheduled for all three defendants on March 28 before Kosciolek.