Saturday, July 26, 2014

Man charged with taking church’s lawn equipment

Matthew Collins, 23, of Wilkes-Barre, allegedly sold goods to support heroin habit.

July 25. 2013 11:48PM

By - - (570) 991-6116

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WILKES-BARRE — Lawn equipment left outside a church’s garage was “there for the taking,” city police allege Matthew Collins told them.

Collins, 23, of West Ross Street, Wilkes-Barre, was arraigned Thursday on charges he stole a Craftsman leaf vacuum, a Honda lawn mower and a Stihl trimmer from St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Church on South Washington Street on Monday.

Police allege Collins sold the lawn equipment at pawn shops for money to support a heroin addiction.

Collins was charged with burglary, criminal trespass and receiving stolen property. He was arraigned by District Judge Diana Malast in Plains Township and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $5,000 bail.

According to the criminal complaint:

The Rev. John Victoria reported on Tuesday that someone had entered an unattached garage near the church and took lawn maintenance equipment. Police tracked the equipment to Rocky’s Trading Post on South Main Street.

A bill of sale allegedly states Collins sold the machines at the trading post and provided his identification card, which was copied, according to the complaint. The machines were returned to the church, police said.

Police arrested Collins when he returned to the trading post on Wednesday. Five empty wax paper bags and a syringe were allegedly found in Collins’ pockets, according to the complaint.

Police allege in the complaint Collins expressed remorse for stealing from the church. He told officers that in his defense, “the church did leave the items outside the garage for the taking,” the complaint states.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Tuesday.

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