PITTSTON — City police were on the suspects’ trail early Tuesday — a Bud Light trail.
Police tracked a series of beverage containers to the Susquehanna River shoreline, they say, where Thomas Gale and John Patte were arrested after a reported burglary at a Kennedy Boulevard distributor.
While Gale and Patte were being arrested, police allege Cody Nelson returned and grabbed a few Bud Light cans scattered on the ground. All three were later charged with burglary and other offenses.
Police were alerted to a burglary at Patel’s Beverage at 250 Kennedy Blvd. at about 2:16 a.m. When officers arrived, they followed the obvious clues from the business to Riverfront Park, according to arrest papers.
Gale, 37, and Patte, 48, who reportedly are homeless, began to run as officers yelled for them to stop, police said. During a foot chase, an officer fell and suffered a minor hand injury.
Patte was arrested when he was found lying on the ground adjacent to the river, and Gale was arrested after a struggle with an officer, police said.
Police allege two beer cans were recovered next to Patte and Gale had a beer can in his pocket and a beer can wrapped with a sweatshirt.
As Gale and Patte were being escorted to cruisers, officers walked past beer cans and bolt cutters near the Water Street Bridge, police said. When officers returned to retrieve the beer and bolt cutters near the bridge, the items were missing.
Police say they later found the bolt cutters and beer near Nelson, who was captured near the Fort Jenkins Bridge.
Surveillance video at Patel’s Beverage recorded Nelson smashing a glass door window with bolt cutters, according to charges filed. Nelson allegedly entered the store and removed two, 30-packs of Bud Light beer that broke open when Nelson tripped as he left out the smashed door.
Video allegedly showed another man enter the store and steal an SPCA donation jar next to the cash register. The donation jar was found under the Water Street Bridge, police said.
Gale and Patte were arraigned by District Judge Paul Roberts in Kingston on charges of burglary, receiving stolen property, theft and conspiracy. Nelson was charged with burglary, criminal trespass, theft, criminal conspiracy and possession of a weapon. They were all jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $25,000 bail each.
Court records say Nelson pleaded guilty before District Judge Andrew Barilla on July 10 to charges of theft from a car and loitering and prowling at night filed by Pittston police. He was sentenced to six months probation.
Patte is facing a criminal trespass charge in county court, after Pittston police accused him of attempting to enter a woman’s apartment on Cherry Street on May 25, and disorderly conduct and public drunkenness charges after Pittston police allegedly found him intoxicated with two cans of Busch beer on Spring Alley on May 30. He was free on $5,000 bail and $5,000 unsecured bail, respectively, on the separate cases.
Preliminary hearings on the burglary-related charges are scheduled on Sept. 25.