HAZLE TWP. — A former employee of Jumbo China Buffet is suspected of stealing credit and debit card information from at least 11 customers and using the information along with two other males to make fraudulent purchases.
State police at Hazleton said victims began reporting that their credit and debit card numbers were used at different Walmart, Rite Aid and Macy’s stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Tennessee to buy gift cards and cigarettes.
All of the victims had in common the fact that they ate at the popular Hazle Township restaurant, located on state Route 309 near the Church Hill Mall, and all used a credit or debit card to pay. The thefts are believed to have occurred between Dec. 19 and Dec. 21.
Surveillance tapes from the Walmart, Rite Aid and Macy’s stores were retrieved and reviewed to identify the individuals involved. Three Asian males were observed making the transactions at those stores.
Police served a search warrant at the restaurant on Thursday in an effort to identify the males and other evidence leading to the acts of copying the credit card information. Police believe it was an inside job, but the male involved no longer works there.
Anyone who ate at the restaurant between Dec. 19 and 21 and had their credit or debit card fraudulently used should report it to state police in Hazleton in person or by phone at 570-459-3890. Victims should have the date, time, location and 16-digit card number printed on a card statement ready to provide to police.
NANTICOKE — City police are investigating an armed robbery at the Cocoa Hut convenient store on East Main Street early Thursday morning.
Police said a white man wearing a gray ski mask, red and black striped shirt and dark jeans entered the store at about 12:55 a.m. and demanded money from the clerk. The suspect brandished a knife or box cutter during the robbery, police said.
Anyone with information about the armed robbery is asked to call Nanticoke police at 570-735-2200 or 911.
PLAINS TWP. — A woman was arraigned Thursday on charges she assaulted her roommate on Tuesday.
Victoria M. Pruitt, 20, of Rose Avenue, Plains Township, was charged by township police with throwing a television that struck Fallon Lawson in the leg and ankle during a disturbance inside their apartment, according to the criminal complaint. Lawson was treated at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
An arrest warrant was issued for Pruitt on Tuesday. She was apprehended early Thursday morning at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, where she was taken after a vehicle crash, court records say.
She was arraigned by District Judge James Tupper in Kingston Township and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $3,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Jan. 14.
HANOVER TWP. — Thieves stole several hundred feet of copper wire worth several thousand dollars from high-voltage transformers in the Hanover Industrial Estates, police said.
The thefts occurred at Webgistix Inc. and the former BabyAge building, both located on Stewart Road , during the overnight hours of Dec. 27 into Dec. 28, said Hanover Township Police Chief Al Walker.
The thieves attempted to get into the buildings but were unsuccessful.
In addition to the copper thefts, extension cords to trailers from the MPW Industrial Water building on Stewart Road were disconnected. The loss there was estimated at $1,300, Walker said.
EDWARDSVILLE — Police had to Taser a man three times Wednesday after he allegedly assaulted a woman inside a residence on Armstrong Street.
John Morrow, 44, of Sycamore Street, Wilkes-Barre, was arraigned Thursday on two counts of resisting arrest, and one count each of simple assault, loitering and prowling at night and disorderly conduct. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $5,000 bail.
The woman told police Morrow assaulted her and put his fingers in her mouth when she tried to crawl out a window, the complaint says.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Jan. 15.
WILKES-BARRE — City police reported the following:
• Sarah Jane Lanning, 24, of Kingston, was charged with retail theft after she allegedly failed to pay for merchandise at Boscov’s Department Store on South Main Street on Wednesday.
Police are investigating an attempted assault inside a residence on South Franklin Street on Tuesday.
Brian Steinruck told police two men entered his residence and threatened him at about 5 p.m. Steinruck said one of the suspects, a Hispanic male he knows as Ryan, demanded money he owes him. The other suspect placed a bag that contained a sawed off shotgun on a table.
When the firearm was displayed, Ryan stated, “I’m gonna shoot you with this.”
Police said the two suspects drove away in a champagne color Pontiac Grand Am.
• Copper pipe was discovered stolen from a residence in the 400 block of Hazle Street on Thursday.
• Desmond McCarthy, of West Newport Stret, Glen Lyon, surrendered himself at police headquarters on an outstanding warrant on Monday and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, police said.
• Nalleli Baez reported on Monday that someone broke into her residence at 139 Bowman St. and stole all of the family Christmas presents, cash, a DS game station and several games, a Toshiba laptop, a Wii game station and games, a Sony Camcorder and assorted jewelry. An investigation is continuing.
• Mary Kovalchik, of Clover Lane, Shavertown, reported that sometime between Dec. 20 and Monday, an unknown suspect gained entry into her property at 12 Mallery Place and removed all of the copper piping from the basement. An investigation is continuing.
• Angela M. Murphy, of South Grant Street, Wilkes-Barre, was to be charged with theft by deception after she allegedly bought $1067.83 worth of merchandise at Boscov’s between Dec. 21 and Thursday while she was an employee there and gave herself a 90-percent discount, paying only $135.60 and stealing $932.22 worth of merchandise, police said.
• Rochelle Ednalino, of North Washington Street, reported on Wednesday that someone entered the residence and stole a TV.
WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Township police reported the following:
• Stephanie Allard reported on Dec. 27 that the passenger-side window of her vehicle was smashed while it was parked outside Red Robin restaurant, and gift cards, personal checks and other items were stolen.
• Ann Exter reported on Dec. 27 that her vehicle was entered outside SkateAway, Blackman Street, and her black Calvin Klein coat was stolen.
• A white man wearing a blue New York Yankees jacket, a blue skull cap and blue pajama pants made two attempts to steal a 47-inch Vizio television from the Walmart Supercenter on Dec. 28. The first attempt was abandoned when the man abandoned the television near the exit when he spotted loss prevention officers.
The man returned to the store and removed the television that he threw in the bed of a white pickup truck. Loss prevention officers were able to recover the television.
• Jean Shultz reported on Sunday that a Samsung Galaxy s4 cellphone was stolen from her son’s back pocket while they were shopping. The serial number of the phone is IS35642005773545.
• Four galvanized steel guide rail posts and a large quantity of concrete steel rods were stolen from behind Germano Glass, Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard, on Tuesday.
• A man in his early 20s stole two Keurig coffee machines valued at $150 from Kohl’s Department Store, Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard, on Dec. 28. The man drove away in a black Toyota sedan.
• Kelly Loftus reported Wednesday the passenger side window on her car was smashed and a gray snake skin “Michael Kohrs” purse, an iPhone 3 and a Penn National Bank card were stolen. The incident happened in front of Bed, Bath & Beyond in the Arena Hub Plaza.
Anyone with information about the incidents are asked to call Wilkes-Barre Township police at 570-408-0295.
HANOVER TWP. — Police said Buddy Oppelt, 24, of Kansas City, Mo., was transported to a hospital for injuries he sustained in a vehicle accident on state Route 29 on Wednesday.
HAZLETON — City police reported the following:
• Janet Alessio, of Hazleton, reported Thursday the battery was stolen from her vehicle when it was parked in the area of St. Gabriel’s Church on South Wyoming Street.
• Police arrested Alberto Jesus Jimenez, 23, of Taft Street, on charges he threatened and struck a woman while she was holding a 6-month-old child inside a residence in the 500 block of East Diamond Avenue on Wednesday.
Jimenez was charged with two counts each of simple assault, reckless endangerment and harassment, and one count each of endangering the welfare of a child and terroristic threats. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $10,000.
HAZLE TWP. — State police at Hazleton said a bullet fired during a fight entered an apartment at Hazleton Apartments on Wednesday.
A fight took place between buildings 600 and 800. During the fight, someone fired a round that went through the exterior wall of Apartment 302. The bullet was recovered from a closet.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call state police at Hazleton at 570-459-3890.