OHIO TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – Police get calls almost daily from construction sites where new houses are being built or remodeled.
Big ticket items have a way of disappearing from these sites. But some great police networking has put a dent in one operation, clearing 40 burglary cases going back three years.
Potential buyers look at a Ryan Homes construction site, like one at Cobblestone in Sewickley, and see their dream home. But a well-organized gang of burglars looked at the same site and saw dollar signs.
“Whatever wasn’t nailed down, they picked it,” said Ohio Township Police Chief Norbert Micklos.
“But a three-month investigation by local police departments and other law enforcement agencies has led to a huge bust.
The Ohio Township municipal garage has been transformed into a big box store – a mountain of refrigerators, microwaves, built-in ovens, dishwashers, flooring, lighting, cabinets, windows, air-conditioning and heating units, even toilet seats and all kinds of portable tools.
Builders, like Ryan Homes, S&A and Weaver are just some of the victims.
“We’re (estimating) right now, at over $100,000 just in stuff we recovered,” Micklos said.
Detectives got a break on Aug. 25 with the arrest of two suspects, they put the finger on two more.
Those arrested are 35-year-old Dwayne Vargo, 37-year-old Darius Sheplar, 35-year-old Charles Fey and 33-year-old Dennis Vargo.
“We got a break of a good attentive citizen who saw something suspicious,” said Oakmont Police Chief David DiSanti.
The alleged burglars worked at night, storing the loot in various places in four counties: Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland and Butler.
“It was gonna be pawned,” said Micklos. “It was gonna be sold on the street.”
The big job now is getting all that merchandise back to the owners.
There will be no “scratch and dent” sales at the municipal garage. Detectives and contractors are using UPC codes and other identifiers to locate the original buyers.
There may still be more arrests. The four already in custody are in the Allegheny County jail.
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