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Farmer’s Stakeout Leads To Arrest Of Suspected Scrap Metal Thieves

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Mary Robb Jackson Mary Robb Jackson
Mary Robb Jackson joined KDKA-TV as a general assignment reporter in...
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WESTMORELAND COUNTY (KDKA) – Farmers in Salem Township have been complaining to State Police about scrap metal thieves poaching on their property.

One frustrated woman decided to try a do-it-yourself bust. And it worked.

Today’s no Independence Day for 34-year-old Keith Lawson Jessman of Greensburg – or his friend 30-year-old Dennis Patrick of Zatezalo of Latrobe.

They are spending the holiday in the Westmoreland County Jail.

“She had to do something,” Clark Steel said, “or she wouldn’t have had nothing left.”

Steel is referring to Amy Johnson, whose family farm is across Route 819 in Salem Township, where scrap metal thieves have been busy.

“They were taking stuff almost every night,” said Steel.

Amy’s private property is clearly posted with warning signs like “looters and trespassers beware of flying objects – they may be bullets.”

About 2 a.m. Thursday, Johnson and a friend who’d spent the night staking out the barns behind some bushes spotted two men.

“And they called police, and police came and handcuffed them,” said Steel.

State Police nabbed Keith Jessman and Dennis Zatezalo running across a field. The two tried telling troopers they had run out of gas and were looking for a gas can.

Johnson declined to be interviewed – she didn’t want to jeopardize the investigation.

“We work hard for our stuff and these people must not have jobs,” Steel said.

Jessman and Zatezalo are charged with conspiracy, attempted burglary, criminal trespass, prowling at night, loitering and possessing instruments of crime, for starters.

According to police, both Jessman and Zatezalo were carrying flashlights and knives. Zatezalo was in possession of suspected heroin and drug paraphernalia. Neither man could make their $50,0000 straight bond.

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