EATON TWP. — State police at Tunkhannock are searching for two people and a late 1990s Chevrolet Astro van involved in the theft of crossbows from two Walmarts in Luzerne and Wyoming counties.
Investigators believe a woman and a man conspired to steal crossbows by hiding the items in totes and by emptying boxes containing merchandise of lower value at Walmart stores in Hazle Township and Eaton Township in early September.
Value of the stolen crossbows is $2,300, state police said.
State police described the suspects as a white woman in her 20s to 30s, with long blonde hair and a heavy build, and a white male in his late 20s to 30s, with crew-cut style hair and heavy build.
At the time of the thefts, the woman wore yellow pants and a black T-shirt and the man wore checkered shorts and a dark T-shirt with a large skull design.
The Chevrolet Astro van is white with stripes with a ladder rack on the rear.
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call state police at Tunkhannock at 570-836-2142.
Bill Petrosky, president of the Pennsylvania Crossbow Federation, said he was surprised to learn crossbows were stolen from Walmarts. He said stores such as Cabelas and Gander Mountain generally carry higher end crossbows that are worth a lot more money.
Petrosky also said crossbow use for hunting has been growing steadily.
According to archery and crossbow harvest data from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the number of deer taken with crossbows statewide has risen every year.
In 2003-04, crossbows accounted for 10 percent of the statewide archery harvest. In 2008-09, they accounted for 24 percent of the statewide archery harvest, almost a quarter of the archery harvest.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission board in 2009 expanded the locations and times that crossbows could be used for hunting as well as allowing the use of magnification scopes on crossbows. They could be used during both the archery deer and bear seasons. Previously, only archery hunters with a disability endorsement on his or her license could hunt with a crossbow, Petrosky said.
The board voted in 2012 to make permanent the lawful use of crossbows in archery deer and bear seasons.
Petrosky said crossbows can “extremely deadly,” with a high-enough draw weight and a broadhead arrow traveling 400 feet per second, just like higher caliber guns are more deadly than smaller-caliber guns.