Police nab suspected 'church burglar' at Blessed Sacrament in Harrison
A Pittsburgh man suspected of several church burglaries is facing numerous charges after Harrison police say he broke into and ransacked Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament school late Tuesday night before leading them on a high-speed chase in a stolen SUV.
Jeffrey Rahiem Chambers Jr., 36, of Langfitt Avenue in Pittsburgh's Brighton Heights neighborhood remains in the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bond.
He is charged with burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, receiving stolen property, fleeing or attempting to elude police, possessing instruments of crime, institutional vandalism, injuring or tampering with a fire apparatus, and loitering and prowling at nighttime, in addition to several traffic violations.
Harrison police Chief Mike Klein said Chambers entered the Most Blessed Sacrament school by pushing in a window air conditioner. Then, he threw a school fire extinguisher to bash open the school's office door, likely looking for money, Klein said.
In the meantime, Chambers allegedly tripped an alarm, sending Harrison police, backed up by Brackenridge police, to the scene about 11:30 p.m.
The police interrupted the burglary, Klein said. Nothing was found missing.
Following the break-in, Chambers led police on a high-speed chase in a gray SUV stolen from a Pittsburgh priest, according to Klein. The chase went throughout the township, south on Route 28 and into Fawn, where, Chambers crashed into a cemetery sign at Bull Creek Road and Route 908 Extension, police said.
Police said the SUV was still moving when Chambers got out and fled into the woods. Officers searched the hillside and eventually found him wearing a ski mask and carrying a screwdriver, they said.
Police took Chambers to a hospital, where he was treated for a broken ankle. He was released for his arraignment.
Chambers has been charged or investigated for a string of church and parochial school burglaries, according to the Tribune-Review's news partner, WPXI-TV.
Late last year, Chambers allegedly used a hammer to break into an Emsworth church to burglarize it, then burglarized another church, stealing food and cash, according to WPXI.
Media accounts and the police have linked Chambers to other alleged burglaries, including ones in Monroeville, Hampton and possibly New Kensington.
Mary Ann Thomas and Madasyn Czebiniak are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Thomas at 724-226-4691, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib. Reach Czebiniak at 724-226-4702, email@example.com, or via Twitter @maddyczebstrib.