WILKES-BARRE — Without money to support his drug habit, Peter Edward Naperkowski Jr. would get “sick.”
That’s what the veteran thief told police when they finally had him in custody last fall after the wanted man was apprehended at gunpoint by a tow truck driver following a string of robberies.
Now, the deeds Naperkowski committed to avoid being sick have earned him up to a dozen years behind bars.
Naperkowski, who turned 37 on Wednesday, was sentenced that day by Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas, who sent him to prison for six to 12 years in connection with five robberies committed in September and October.
Those crimes, according to court records, were:
• On Sept. 21, Naperkowski was captured on video stealing a $400 snow blower from the Edwardsville Kmart store. That video also showed Naperkowski loading the snow blower into a waiting van marked with his employer’s business name. Police contacted the company and learned that Naperkowski had gone missing from work for three hours that day.
• On Sept. 25, Naperkowski was observed stealing a $329 security system from Sam’s Club in Wilkes-Barre Township, then fleeing in a car with two other men.
• On Sept. 27, employees at Beiter’s Home Center in Wilkes-Barre Township nabbed Naperkowski as he tried to run out of the store with a $499 Dyson vacuum cleaner.
• On Oct. 7, Naperkowski robbed the Hazle Mart store at Blackman Street and Hazle Avenue.
Armed with a handgun, Naperkowski entered the store and told the clerk: “I don’t wanna hurt anyone, buddy. Please I don’t wanna hurt you!” according to the criminal complaint.
Naperkowski fled the store and jumped in a vehicle driven by Tarra Yablonski, the complaint says.
Yablonski told police Naperkowski called her for a ride so they could pick up heroin, according to the complaint.
Police said a witness followed the vehicle through the city and across the Susquehanna River to the Kmart store in Edwardsville, where Naperkowski ran out of her vehicle and into the department store, exiting through a rear emergency exit.
• On Oct. 13, Naperkowski robbed the Turkey Hill store at 335 East Main St., where he displayed a black pistol tucked into his waistband.
He told the female clerk to give him all the money because he didn’t want to hurt her. The woman complied. He said “thank you,” and advised her to wait a few minutes before she called police.
Wanted by police, Naperkowski was apprehended by City Wide Towing proprietor Bob Kadluboski the night of Oct. 16.
Kadluboski said he detained Naperkowski at gunpoint at a residence on Andover Street.
“Naperkowski related he did in fact commit the robberies and was courteous while doing them,” a police affidavit states.
“Defendant related he needed money quick, as he was using heroin and cocaine and needed drugs to avoid being ‘sick,’” police added.
Naperkowski’s sentence requires him to undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation and comply with its recommendations.
Prior to last fall’s string of thefts, Naperkowski was convicted in 18 other retail theft cases, court records show.
He will be required to make $1,189 in restitution, which includes $300 to Hazle Mart, $160 to Turkey Hill, $329 to Sam’s Club and $400 to Kmart.