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Police arrest alleged house burglar

| Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 3:06 a.m.

A man believed to be responsible for a string of burglaries in McKeesport and White Oak has been arrested.

Jarelle Spencer, 21, has been charged by police departments in both municipalities for 10 burglaries in neighborhoods near the border of the two communities between September and December.

Spencer, who is homeless, was arrested Jan. 16 when police identified him as a suspect. He allegedly was in possession of a small amount of marijuana and subsequently charged for that offense as well, according to police.

The majority of the break-ins occurred during the day when homeowners were out. Police said Spencer would knock on doors. If someone answered, Spencer allegedly told them he was looking for a lost dog.

If no one was home, police allege Spencer forced his way in or gained access through an unlocked door or window.

Spencer is accused of stealing jewelry and cash.

A firearm was reported missing from a burglarized home in White Oak, but police said they have not been able to attribute that theft to Spencer.

White Oak police Chief Lou Bender said he expects more charges to be filed.

In December, White Oak police charged Gordon S. Blackwell, 21, of McKeesport with theft and receiving stolen property in connection with one of the six break-ins in White Oak.

“We definitely do anticipate more arrests stemming from these burglaries,” Bender said.

McKeesport police Chief Bryan Washowich said Spencer is accused of selling items he took from the homes to individuals and pawn shops.

Washowich said cooperation between the two departments led to the arrest.

He said suspects “don't recognize jurisdictional boundaries.”

Bender agreed.

“The cooperation between our department and McKeesport led to the closing of these cases and subsequently making these arrests,” Bender said.

The chiefs credited McKeesport Lt. Chris Halaszynski and detective Sgt. James Reed and White Oak detective Mark Bushik for their work on the case.

Spencer is charged with six counts each of burglary and theft in connection with the White Oak break-ins. In McKeesport, he is charged with four counts each of burglary and theft and a single count of receiving stolen property.

The homes affected in White Oak are along Fawcett and Ohio avenues and Glass and Summit streets. In McKeesport, Spencer is charged with burglarizing homes along Sarah and Jefferson streets.

Spencer is in Allegheny County Jail. He is scheduled to go before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi on Monday for a preliminary hearing. As of Wednesday, Spencer had not been arraigned on all the White Oak charges. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for one of the cases.

A representative from the White Oak court said the date likely will be changed because it conflicts with the McKeesport court date.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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