Forensic evidence links inmate to ‘09 burglary

June 9th, 2015 10:24 pm

First Posted: 5/8/2014

BEAR CREEK TWP. — It took more than four years, but forensic evidence linked an inmate to a brazen service station burglary that involved the theft of nearly $16,300 worth of cigarettes.

State police at Wyoming charged James J. Dietrich, 49, with the burglary at the Exxon service station on Bear Creek Boulevard on Dec. 9, 2009.

He was arraigned Thursday by District Judge Michael Dotzel in Wilkes-Barre Township via video conference from the State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale, Clearfield County, on charges of burglary, criminal trespass, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief. Although a formality, Dotzel set bail at $1,000.

Court records say Dietrich is serving a four- to eight-year state prison sentence imposed in Philadelphia County in May 2011 on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, possessing instruments of crime and terroristic threats. He is also serving a three- to six-year state prison sentence imposed in Monroe County in June 2013 on a burglary charge filed by Pocono Mountain Regional Police.

According to the criminal complaint:

State police investigated a burglary at the service station where the suspect cut a hole through the front of the building and entered. The business had closed about two hours before the burglary.

A trooper with the state police Forensics Services Unit collected physical and forensic evidence, including a swab of blood from a swinging door that leads to the cash register area.

A recording of the store’s surveillance system showed the suspect at 11:42 p.m. Dec. 9, 2009, crawling through a hole in the wall and coming in contact with the swinging door. The suspect was observed as being taller with a slender build.

The suspect went behind the door and stole 292 cartons of cigarettes that had a value of $16,379, the complaint says.

The video recording showed the suspect leaving at 11:54 p.m. and a vehicle driving away, according to the complaint.

Blood evidence from the store analyzed at crime labs in Wyoming and Greensburg was linked to the burglary investigation by Pocono Mountain Regional Police.

State police allege in the complaint that DNA recovered from the door matched the DNA profile of Dietrich.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled on May 21.