Alleged thief gets caught in lie

April 30, 2014

A Richeyville man may have thought he came up with the perfect plan to get out of a retail theft charge filed earlier this month by South Strabane Township police.

But instead, Adam Benjamin Arena, 34, of 718 Locust St., is in Washington County jail on $25,000 bond after he was tripped up by his bogus receipt for the goods he allegedly stole from Wal-Mart, Trinity Point, last month.

Arena was at the office of District Judge Jay Weller Tuesday for his hearing on the retail theft charge filed by South Strabane Officer Seth Kelley. Store employees called police after Arena was reportedly seen putting seven items valued at $289 in gray Wal-Mart bags and then leaving the store.

Arena presented a fake Wal-Mart receipt to the court claiming that he purchased the items he was accused of stealing. A store employee verified for the court that it was not a Walmart receipt. The Richeyville man also was in possession of the items he reportedly stole, including an Xbox 360 game sensor, five Xbox games and a Sirius XM satellite radio vehicle kit.

North Strabane Township police Officer Jonathan Miles was then asked to take Arena into custody by assistant District Attorney Josh Carroll.

While searching Arena in North Strabane’s holding cell, Officer Matthew Mancini found a handcuff key hidden in one of his boots. Miles talked with Carroll, who suggested police charge Arena with possessing instruments of a crime since he may have planned to use it to escape from police.

North Strabane police also will charge Arena with receiving stolen property and tampering with records or identification. He will be arraigned on those charges at a later date.

His preliminary hearing on the South Strabane charge was rescheduled for May 27.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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