WILKES-BARRE – Police on Wednesday searched by helicopter and with a K-9 unit in the Parsons section after the sighting of a homeless man suspected of breaking into the Anthracite Cafe and stealing about $2,000.
Police identified the suspect as Jessie Vanwinkle from a surveillance system focused on the area around the cafe on Scott Street. Vanwinkle was described as white, approximately 6 feet tall with a slender build.
“Somebody hit me three times in the past 10 days,” said Mike Prushinski, the owner of the cafe. Entry was made through an air vent, he said.
Wilkes-Barre Police Detective Matt Stash said Vanwinkle took approximately $2,000 in total and caused damage in the cafe.
Police in marked and unmarked vehicles converged on the area around 1 p.m. in response to a fresh sighting of Vanwinkle, Stash said. A Pennsylvania State Police helicopter was called in to assist.
A neighbor spotted Vanwinkle behind a house, Stash said. The dog that was working with a Hanover Township K-9 officer picked up a scent, but was unable to locate the suspect because of the fences separating the backyards, Stash said.
The helicopter made multiple passes over the area bordered by Scott and Liddon streets and the nearby woods along the northbound lanes of the North Cross Valley Expressway. The K-9 officer and dog and city police checked backyards and a vacant house on Scott Street directly across from the cafe. A city detective was seen carrying bags of evidence from the house.
Police also searched a fenced-in property where several school buses were parked near a garage across the street from the cafe. The search was discontinued around 2:30 p.m. The helicopter, which had landed in an unpaved lot near the cafe, flew away around 2:50 p.m.
Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.