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Monessen burglary suspect caught in ceiling crawl space

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Robert Welch of Monessen arrested Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2013

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By The Valley Independent
Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Monessen man is in jail after police responded to a break-in and found him hiding in a ceiling crawl space.

Monessen police said Robert Welch, 35, of 105 Reed Ave., allegedly broke into an abandoned Reed Avenue residence around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to steal copper tubing.

Officer Jim Franks was the first to respond and heard power tools being used as he approached the house, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Franks entered the house through a window that had been forced open and unlocked a door to let in police Chief John Mandarino, officer Aaron Thompson and K-9 officer Uri.

Police said they went upstairs and saw copper tubing and tools on the floor. Mandarino then saw a crawl space in one of the walls. K-9 officer Uri indicated someone was inside the crawl space.

With Mandarino keeping watch, the other three officers went downstairs and Franks stood on a table, looked into the open drop ceiling and saw Welch allegedly squeezed inside the cramped space.

Welch then crawled out of the space and was placed under arrest, police said.

He was charged with theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and criminal trespass, arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Joseph Dalfonso in Monessen and sent to Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $10,000 cash bond.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 6 in front of Dalfonso.

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