Crime spree halted
Lehighton borough police feel they have nabbed the individuals who have been breaking into homes in Lehighton.
Two teenagers, males ages 13 and 14, are accused of the crimes that have been going on for weeks and possibly months.
In addition, the 14-year-old and a 17-year-old male are also suspected of breaking into garages and sheds in Mahoning Township and Franklin Township. The teens are also believed to have done vandalism to the Lehighton Municipal Swimming Pool.
Police say there might be other teens involved. Also being questioned, but not charged, are two other teens, a male and a female.
The 14 and 17-year-old have been placed under house arrest, police said. The 13-year-old is expected to be formally charged this weekend.
Events leading to the arrests unfolded following the theft of an ATV in Lehighton and a motorcycle in Mahoning Township. Both were recovered in Lehighton.
Sgt. Joseph Lawrence said a tip from a concerned citizen combined with good police work by all the officers involved led to the break in the case.
During that spree, break-ins occurred at four houses in Lehighton, as well as burglaries of sheds and garages in the two townships. In one of the home burglaries, the residents were asleep in their beds when the brazen intruders entered.
Stolen from the homes were jewelry, a laptop computer, coins, a cell phone and charger, and other items. "We recovered some of the items," Lawrence said.
A break in the investigation began unfolding at about 3:35 p.m. Thursday when Mahoning Township police were dispatched to a residence in the 400 block of Mahoning Mountain Road for a stolen motorcycle/dirt bike.
Kenneth J. Barnes, chief of police in Mahoning, said he was advised by the homeowner that the bike had been locked in a trailer. Bolt cutters were used to cut the lock on the trailer.
Lawrence said a resident supplied police with information which caused them to search a garage in the borough. Barnes said police were directed to a home in the 300 block of North Second Street in Lehighton.
They interviewed the 14-year-old male who allegedly admitted taking part in the theft of the bike, and working with the 17-year-old male who also resides in the same block.
Barnes said the bike was recovered at the home of the older teen.
"We got good cooperation from the majority of the parents." Lawrence said.
He added that the 14-year-old admitted to the home burglaries and that in the course of the investigation, the stolen ATV was recovered.
"I want to express how everything worked so well," said Lawrence. "The cooperation from everyone was excellent.
"Initially a citizen came forward to report something suspicious. This was a textbook criminal justice case. We need citizens with the eyes. This started the ball rolling. The officers going out and following up were determined. The initial officers going to the crime scene did a great job investigating and getting evidence."
Detective Mike Svetik of the Lehighton Police Department said the residents of the burglarized residences have identified some of their stolen items.
He said the case was solved "by the wonderful work of the police officers in this department." He didn't single out any police officers by name because it was a team project.
Lawrence said officer Tyler Meek of the Mahoning Township Police Department also played a key role in the investigation.
Chief Barnes agreed that Meek and officer Elliot Miller pursued the investigation of the stolen motorcycle.
"This was outstanding police work done by all of the officers involved," Barnes said. "One should take note that these two male juveniles were prepared to the point of carrying a portable police scanner with them."
The four houses burglarized in Lehighton included two in the 300 block of South Eighth Street, one in the 300 block of North Eleventh Street, and one in the 800 block of Mahoning Street.