A couple and a 17-year-old boy spent about 10 days traveling from New York to Pennsylvania and stealing a large collection of small items along the way from about 90 Kmarts, Walmarts and Toys "R" Us stores, according to Ross Township Police.
Theresa Lynn Warner, 40; Warner's 17-year-old son and Christopher Frances Dimaio, 39, all of Little Falls, NY, were arrested Nov. 16 by Ross Township Police after being detained at the McIntyre Square Kmart for stealing about $500 worth of items, including six boxes of baseball cards.
Police later found the white Enterprise rental van the trio had been using to travel. The van was stuffed full of stolen goods, including more baseball cards, matchbox cars, and packaged Barbie, Power Rangers and Star Wars dolls, police said.
The van was impounded and opened Wednesday morning in order for its contents to be inventoried at the Berkeley Hills Fire Department's station on Siebert Road. Three loss prevention regional agents from the targeted stores were on site to identify and recover the goods they believe were taken from their stores.
"Quite frankly, we don't have the storage space at the Ross Police Department," said police spokesman Sgt. Benjamin Dripps.
Police estimated the total value of the retail thefts at between $20,000 and $50,000.
Dimaio told police he estimated the total value of the goods at $22,000, according to Al Elway, one of the two arresting Ross Police officers.
"They were very quiet and subdued," after being caught, Elway said. "In the beginning they were giving us a little bit of a story. He (Dimaio) told us there were some toys in the car—some."
Elway said the couple told him they were struggling financially and intended to sell the items at flea markets.
They kept a detailed handwritten log of the stores they planned to steal from, including notes about aisles that couldn't be seen by cameras, according to documents police found in the van.
After each success, they made a checkmark next to the store's name on the list, Elway said. In cases where they hit the store twice (once at night and again in the morning), they made two checkmarks next to the store's name, he said.
The Toys "R" Us on Cheryl Drive in Ross was checked once, as was the Walmart in Cranberry. The Toys "R" Us store in Cranberry was checkmarked twice.
The three were caught in the act of stealing at the Ross Township Kmart after employees watched them on video and in person trying to conceal the baseball cards, Dripps said.
All three are charged with retail theft, receiving stolen property and conspiracy, Dripps said. They were arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Richard Opiela, who set bond at $15,000 straight.
Warner has waived her right to a preliminary hearing and will stand trial on the charges. Dimaio's preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday.