NAYZE MEDIA (STAFF)
LOCAL: MONTGOMERY/ LEHIGH,/BERKS COUNTY, P.A.
Cover Photo Courtesy: Penn Live
67-year old, Joseph Payea and 49-year old Penelope McClain, are facing a host of charges after being arrested in connection with a theft ring that reportedly targeted hardware stores in at least three counties surrounding the city of Philadelphia. A report from 6 ABC Action News said, the arrests were announced on Friday morning by Montgomery County District Attorney, Kevin Steele.
The pair allegedly used a network of people to help them steal from Home Depot and Lowe’s stores in Lehigh, Berks, and Montgomery Counties. There were many accomplices, but Payea and McClain were charged as being the ring leaders of “The Hardware Store Bandits”.
Authorities began investigating the gang in December of 2021, when Lower Pottsgrove Police determined that recent retail thefts in their area were not isolated acts, but instead a network of individuals. Payea would allegedly use social media or text messages to provide shopping lists of desired merchandise to a group of individuals suffering from substance abuse disorder.
“This was a high-volume organized retail theft ring that caused the targeted businesses to suffer significant losses, both through the thefts themselves and through the loss of customers who bought the stolen merchandise from the defendants. At one point, the two main defendants made more than $50,000 in one day’s sale of stolen items at a mud sale. That is a significant loss for any business to withstand on an ongoing basis. Additionally the fact that the corrupt organization was using individuals suffering from addiction is unconscionable and furthered their addiction to poison”, said District Attorney Steele on Friday afternoon.
Authorities reported recovering and seizing more than 500 stolen tools worth nearly $100,000 from the defendants when they searched their homes. Three other defendants are also facing charges related to the theft ring, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
Payea’s bail was set at $500,000 unsecured, and McClain’s bail was set at $250,000 unsecured.