The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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November 26, 2012

Borough troubled by rash of crime

Several burglaries reported in South Fork

JOHNSTOWN — Another burglary reported in South Fork over the weekend has the tiny borough on edge.

“You can’t leave your home,” business-owner John Fabo said. “Everybody is looking around and saying it’s a damn shame.”

Thieves broke into a hallway at a Main Street apartment building overnight Friday and took a family’s hand tools and Christmas decorations, valued at more than $800, state police said.

Although state police have released reports on only five break-ins, local officials say there have been several more.

South Fork’s part-time police department investigated one burglary earlier this month on Grant Street, and Adams Township police are looking for thieves who broke into a Gramlingtown Road home on Nov. 14 just outside the borough.

The owner of Fabo’s Garage said burglaries at the First United Methodist Church at 500 Maple St. and Master Machine Co. at 310 River St. and an attempted break-in at South Fork Pit Stop, 220 Lake St., prompted him to load his shotgun. All are within a block of his 300 Lake St. service station.

“I am surrounded by burglaries,” Fabo said.

The borough’s two full-time police officers are following up on all the reported crimes, including those reported to state police when both South Fork officers were off-duty.

Police Chief Scott Stoltz admits the thieves may have been tracking the local cops’ patrols. A break-in at the South Fork VFW was reported shortly after local police turned over patrols to the state police, he said.

“They may have been monitoring when the police are there,” Stoltz said. “We are trying to change up the schedule.”

Additional patrols in unmarked vehicles and other strategies are being developed, he added.

“It’s a lie-in-wait kind of thing, trying to catch them in the act,” Stoltz said. “We are pursuing every avenue. We are checking social media sites for things related.”

South Fork residents can help police by reporting suspicious activity, Stoltz said.

“Make sure their doors are locked and look for any suspicious vehicles,” he said. “If they see people sitting in vehicles for an extended period of time, contact the police.”

The Cambria County non-emergency number, 800-281-1680, will connect resident with the police on duty if there is nobody in the police station.

“They have 24-hour police protection, whether it is by us or the state police,” Stoltz said.

State police investigators were off Monday, but District Attorney Kelly Callihan said she will be meeting with police to discuss the burglaries.

She warns all Cambria County residents to be more safety-conscious during the busy holiday shopping season.

“I’ll be reviewing this with the police this week and maybe reach out to Crime Stoppers to offer a reward,” Callihan said.

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