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Theft suspect may have followed Meals on Wheels

Published June 19. 2014 08:43PM

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) — A southwestern Pennsylvania man may have been following Meals on Wheels delivery drivers in order to find elderly victims from whom he stole a purse, tools and medications in a series of bizarre and sometimes brazen thefts, state police said.

James Brian Hay, 46, of Garrett, remained in the Somerset County Jail on Thursday, a day after troopers charged him in three incidents, though they continued to seek other possible victims. Online court records don't list a defense attorney.

Hay went house-to-house claiming he was looking to be paid for home repair work in several communities in the county this month, according to police. So far, police have charged him with entering — and sometime barging into — three homes and stealing various items. Two of his three victims were ages 86 and 90, police said.

"He may have been following Meals on Wheels to target elderly victims," Trooper Matthew Jones said.

In one incident, Hay allegedly walked into a home, past a Meals on Wheels volunteer and the homeowner, and sat down in a living room chair where he began pitching home repairs. At one point, Hay asked for a glass of water and, on his way to get it, stole some prescription pain pills from a kitchen table before fleeing, police said.

On Saturday, a woman noticed Hay touching her back door and when she asked what he was doing, he offered to make some home repairs, which she refused. After asking for water and walking past the woman, he took her purse containing $170 from a desk, police said.

In the last incident, Hay reportedly stole a chain saw from a barn, which he reportedly sold to a lawn service on Tuesday. Hay has also recently sold watches and jewelry to other businesses, which police believe may have come from other victims who've not yet reported the thefts or even realized they occurred.


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