A suspected jewelry burglar is in custody after breaking into a West Penn Township home and leading police on a 10-mile high-speed chase through Schuylkill County yesterday.
Around 2 p.m. yesterday, Lorene Walter, who lives on the 1100 block of Spring Road in West Penn Township, said she arrived home and saw a red sports car parked in her driveway. Walter said she had returned in her vehicle after taking her two dogs for a walk at a park. Her husband John was at work at the time.
When she opened the storm door, she noticed the door was kicked in. Staying outside, she then yelled inside the door, "Who's there?"
Walter said that a few seconds later, a man calmly exited the door with drawers and a jewelry tower.
She then yelled to the man, "Who the hell are you?"
The man then got into his car and sped away toward Orchard Road toward SR443. Walter then called 911 from her cell phone.
"The response by the West Penn Police was great," said Walter. "The police chief arrived within a minute of my call."
A BOLO (be on the lookout) was given by Schuylkill Communications to surrounding police departments in both Schuylkill and Carbon counties.
Responding to the call, Rush Township Police Sgt. Duane Frederick was traveling south on SR309 when he passed a red Chevy Camaro traveling north on SR309 near the Hess Express in Tamaqua. Frederick turned his cruiser around to intercept the vehicle. According to police, that is when the Camaro sped up, passing cars and going through red lights. With police in pursuit, the Camaro turned west onto US209 at the Five Points intersection and continued on US209 for about 10 miles through multiple Schuylkill County municipalities.
The high speed chase continued northwest until it reached the village of Cumbola, Blythe Township. Police said the driver stopped his 1995 Camaro just before driving over spike strips, which were placed across US209 by state police from the Frackville barracks.
According to police, Matthew Desroches, 40, of Canton, Bradford County, stole about $10,000 worth of jewelry in the Spring Road home burglary. Police said Desroches' front seat was full of jewelry drawers and jewelry boxes.
"The man burglarized my home at the only time someone wasn't home," said Walter. "I have two dogs and someone is always home."
She added that this wasn't how they wanted to celebrate her husband's birthday, which is today.
In addition to state police, police officers from West Penn Township, Ryan Township, Rush Township, Tamaqua and New Philadelphia were involved in the search and chase for the vehicle.
Desroches, who police say kicked in the door, was charged with burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and receiving stolen property.
West Penn Police Chief Brian Johnson credited the homeowner for providing a detailed description of the burglar and vehicle, as well as Sgt. Frederick for taking initiative by responding to the incident.
"It actually worked out very well for a change," said Johnson. "In this case, we caught him and the jewelry.
"No one was injured in the burglary, and the woman who owns the jewelry will get it back," added Johnson.