The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

August 28, 2012

Police: Hot laptop snares church burglar

MIDDLEBURG — A Middleburg man, linked to a Beavertown church burglary after selling a computer allegedly stolen from the church, was apprehended in Florida just two hours after borough police issued a warrant for his arrest.

Accused of burglarizing two Beavertown churches in June, John J. Shaffer II also is a suspect in several other church break-ins that occurred in the past four months, Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch said.

Shaffer put himself in hot water around midnight Friday in Florida when he asked for directions to the beach as Hurricane Isaac approached the coast.

The inquiry raised the suspicions of police in Collier County, Fla., who did a background check and found a warrant for Shaffer’s arrest had been issued about two hours earlier by Middleburg police.

Shaffer, 18, of 213 Globe Mills Road, Middleburg, fled to the southern state earlier this month well aware that criminal charges stemming from the June 13 break-ins at St. Paul’s Reformed Church in Beavertown and Beavertown United Methodist Church were pending against him, Middlburg officer Dave Shaffer said.

The officer and Piecuch confirmed that John Shaffer is a suspect in several other church burglaries that occurred in the Valley this year. Since April, at least 18 churches in Snyder, Union, Northumberland and Juniata counties have been burglarized.

Middleburg police received a tip earlier this month about Shaffer’s possible involvement in the Beavertown church break-ins and were told that a laptop computer stolen from St. Paul’s Reformed Church may have been in the possession of Cody Kuhns.

Kuhns, who is not a suspect in the burglaries, told police he was heading from his home in South Carolina to visit his mother in Pennsylvania on June 18 when John Shaffer asked for a ride from Virginia to his home in Middleburg.

During the trip, Shaffer told Kuhns he needed money to pay rent and wanted to pawn a computer he had purchased, court records said.

Kuhns offered to help him out and paid $60 for the computer. Kuhns turned the computer over to police after he was contacted by them and they determined it was the $420 laptop taken from the church, court records said.

Shaffer was interviewed by Middleburg Police Chief Tony Jordan on Aug. 14 and allegedly admitted burglarizing the two Beavertown churches and stealing the laptop that he later sold to Kuhns.

Officer Shaffer said John Shaffer later took off for Florida knowing that charges were pending against him.

He is being held in the Collier County Prison awaiting an extradition hearing to appear in District Judge Lori Hackenberg’s Middleburg court on charges of two counts of felony burglary, four counts of criminal trespass and two counts each of misdemeanor receiving stolen property, theft by unlawful taking and criminal mischief.

In addition to the laptop, Shaffer is accused of stealing about $150 from St. Paul’s Reformed Church and causing $600 to $800 in damages to a door.

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