Forks Township police, looking to crack a rash of thefts from cars and other vehicles in the southeastern part of the township and neighboring College Hill in Easton, hit paydirt Wednesday night.
They arrested an Easton man, Terry Patrick Ruser, 37, who admitted to entering numerous vehicles in the area north of Lafayette College in the past two weeks and stealing various items. He was taken into custody near Lafayette and McCartney streets on College Hill.
Court records show Ruser had an especially active stretch during the early morning hours of Sept. 12. He admitted stealing credit cards from a vehicle parked in the driveway of a Forks house. Then, in just under an hour, he used the cards to buy about $250 in gifts cards from Wawa stores on College Hill and in Lower Nazareth.
He also admitted stealing a Canon T1i digital camera, valued at about $1,500, from the Forks vehicle, the records say.
Ruser, of N. 4th St., helped police recover “numerous stolen items,” including the Canon camera, from his apartment. But he was jailed early Thursday after failing to post $10,000 bail.
A criminal complaint filed by Forks officer Joseph S. Effting tells the following story:
Forks police were contacted Sept. 12 by a man and woman residing on the 2600 block of Fringe Lane in the township. They said that sometime overnight, someone entered their white 2009 GMC Denali -- the vehicle had New Jersey tags -- and stole numerous items.
They said an L.L. Bean backpack contained a wallet with numerous credit cards and about $200 in cash. They said the items’ total value, including the backpack, was $275. On Sept. 18, they called back to say the Canon camera also was stolen.
On the night of Sept. 12, the man told police his credit card company said two of the cards were used for unauthorized purchases. He gave police the following summary:
- 2 a.m., two gifts cards, $82.94, from Wawa on Cattell Street on College Hill, using a Wells Fargo credit card.
- 2:05 a.m., gift card, $54.95, Wawa, Cattell Street, using a Chase Visa card.
- 2:49 a.m., gift card, $54.95, Wawa, 3820 Easton-Nazareth Highway (Route 248), Lower Nazareth, using Wells Fargo card.
- 2:49 a.m., gift card, $54.95, Wawa, Lower Nazareth, using Chase Visa.
- 2:50 a.m., gift card, $54.95, Wawa, Lower Nazareth, using Chase Visa.
- 3:08 a.m., about $40 in fuel, Rudy’s Gas Station, 25th and Northampton streets, using Chase Visa.
The next day, Effting watched surveillance video from the two Wawas and Rudy’s. He saw the credit card purchases were made by the same person -- a man, 5-feet-2 to 5-feet-4 with a thin build, wearing a New England Patriots cap backward, a black short-sleeve shirt with a small backpack and dark jogging pants with white stripes. He also sported white ear buds from an mp3-type of device.
Effting also noticed the man signed for the purchases with his left hand and that the fuel from Rudy’s was for a silver four-door sedan, either a Hyundai Sonata or Elantra.
About a week later, shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday, Effting and two other Forks officers were working a special detail because of the vehicle break-ins. In the area of Lafayette and McCartney, they spotted a man resembling the individual in the videos -- he was even sporting white ear buds. He walked east, then back west within several minutes.
The officers stopped the man. “Upon getting a better view of him,” Effting wrote, “I was certain, without any doubt,” that it was the same man in the videos.
The man turned out to be Ruser, and after waiving his Miranda rights, he admitted to the car break-ins.
Ruser was charged with theft from a motor vehicle and access device issued to another who did not authorize use. He was arraigned at 5:30 a.m. Thursday by on-duty District Judge Diane Marakovits of Northampton.