Even councilman falls victim to burglary ring in Pitcairn

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Pitcairn Councilman John Prucnal said his family lost more than material items on July 21, when his wife and daughter returned home from the mall to find that their house on Eleanor Street had been burglarized.

He and his wife's wedding bands were plucked from a drawer in their bedroom. His daughter, who is a teacher, lost a laptop with work-related files. The family also lost an antique wedding ring owned by his mother-in-law and promised to his daughter when she is married. The burglary occurred between 3:30 and 6 p.m., while the home was empty, Prucnal said.

“They ransacked the house, just like you see on (home security) commercials,” Prucnal said Monday. “Everything was all over the bedroom.”

Less than 24 hours later, Pitcairn police filed charges against three men in connection with six burglaries over the last month, including the incident at the Prucnal home. All were daytime burglaries and involved forced entry, Pitcairn police Chief Scott Farally said.

A patrol officer discovered some items reported stolen in a vehicle occupied by the suspects during a traffic stop, according to the criminal complaint.

A fourth suspect had not been charged, as of Tuesday.

Prucnal said a few of the items taken from his house were recovered, but nothing of much value. He said the family lost about $5,000 worth of jewelry and electronics.

“There's an ongoing investigation of all the burglaries,” Farally said. “But hopefully (families) can sleep better at night.”

Part of the investigation will include a check with local pawn shops for missing items, Farally said.

Pitcairn police filed six counts of conspiracy to commit burglary against Ryan Kelly, 24, of Broadway Boulevard in Pitcairn; Jesse Rau, 18, of Sixth Street; and Stephane Parks, 23, of North Aiken Avenue in East Liberty. Police also charged Rau with two counts of conspiracy to receive stolen property and one count of conspiracy to commit theft. Kelly and Parks each were charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit theft.

A preliminary hearing for the suspects was continued to Aug. 5 in the Monroeville courtroom of District Judge Jeffrey Herbst, which would allow enough time for all three suspects to obtain legal representation. None were represented as of Tuesday, Farally said.

Prucnal said he wasn't sure if he would ever move out of Pitcairn.

“I don't care if you live in Mt. Lebanon, Fox Chapel or Pitcairn, this is happening everywhere,” Prucnal said. “More likely though it's happening in Pitcairn.”

Public Safety Committee Chairman John Bova suggested borough officials approach a home-security company about a possible bulk purchase by the borough, which could then lower the cost per resident.

“Fish have to swim and crooks are going to steal stuff,” Bova said. “But if you make it hard enough, they'll find somewhere else to do it.”

Vivint Home Security is one of the companies Pitcairn officials plan to approach, he said.

The lowest monthly cost for a Vivint home security system is $54, in addition to a $99 activation fee, according to the company's website.

The first line of defense against a burglary is common sense, said Sam Rosenberg, President of Inpax Academy of Personal Protection and Global Protection Service, located in North Versailles and Sewickley.

“The vast majority of home burglaries are occurring because people left doors unlocked,” Rosenberg said.

He said the second priority for homeowners should be a security system, assuming the system is active.

“Burglars could look in to the house to see if a security system is armed or not,” Rosenberg said. “Burglars are more sophisticated than people give them credit.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-871-2369 or klawson@tribweb.com.

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