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Clues to break-ins found in Pa.

August 02, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania State Police said Monday they are conducting an investigation that could solve 30 or more commercial burglaries.

The announcement came after police arrested two men they alleged were leaving a closed Chambersburg Pizza Hut that was under surveillance as part of the investigation.

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Scott Alan Dehart, 18, Dennis Jack O'Donnell, 19, and Timothy Charles Low, 21, all of 112 E. Orange St., were all charged with burglary, criminal conspiracy, criminal mischief and theft, according to police records. They were arraigned before District Justice Larry Meminger and jailed in Franklin County Prison on $50,000 bond each.

Dehart and O'Donnell were charged with a May 21 break-in at The Treat restaurant at 9846 Molly Pitcher Highway in Shippensburg. Low was charged with a May 21 burglary at the Scotland Ballfields concession stand in Greene Township, according to police records.

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A Chambersburg Police Department report said Dehart and O'Donnell were taken into custody after state police saw two men leaving through the back door of the Pizza Hut at 811 Wayne Ave., at 2:34 a.m.

Chambersburg Detective Sgt. Dianne Kelso said no charges had been filed in the Pizza Hut burglary as of Monday afternoon.

The state police report said they were investigating a string of burglaries committed in Franklin and Cumberland counties between April and Monday.

"We've been working with the state police on this for some time," said Mid-Cumberland Valley Regional Police Department Chief Dennis McMaster. "We had 16 cops working this thing overnight and it involved a number of surveillances," according to McMaster, who said state police supplied most of the personnel and equipment.

State Police in Franklin and Cumberland counties, the Mid-Cumberland Valley Regional Police, Chambersburg police and Norfolk Southern/Conrail police were involved in the surveillance.

"We did a map of the burglaries and found most of them were within walking distance of railroad tracks," McMaster said.

The report said the state police Bureau of Emergency and Special Operations also was involved. State police spokesman Jack Lewis said the bureau is in charge of the state police aviation unit.

Brian Kelly of Chambersburg lives near the Pizza Hut and said a police helicopter with a searchlight flew over the area Monday morning.

McMaster said his department is investigating 10 or more burglaries in the borough of Shippensburg and Shippensburg Township in Cumberland County. Most of them involved restaurants and similar methods of operation, he said.

Affidavits of probable cause alleged Dehart and O'Donnell admitted involvement in a burglary at The Treat, and Low admitted being involved in the concession stand break-in. A search warrant was executed at their home after they were questioned, according to state police.

"We have a lot of physical evidence and a lot of recovered property," McMaster said. He said it would be the end of the week before his department was ready to file charges in any other break-ins.

The affidavits stated that a First Alert safe containing $2,000 in cash was stolen from The Treat. Candy and a George Foreman hamburger grill were taken from the ballfield concession stand.

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