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Police make arrests in major Alle-Kiski area burglary spree

| Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009

Police busted a five-member burglary ring accused of hitting 28 homes and businesses in three counties, including several in the Alle-Kiski Valley, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said Wednesday.

The burglars targeted mostly businesses in the North Hills, often stealing safes, ATMs and video poker machines. In some cases, the thieves rammed through doors with a truck and loaded an entire ATM or safe into the back, according to a presentment from a county investigative grand jury.

Accused ring-leader Timothy Sunday, 47, of Etna is accused in 25 of the burglaries and faces 63 charges related to the break-ins. Sunday often dumped empty safes or ATMs over the 62nd Street Bridge between Etna and Lawrenceville, Zappala said.

Court records do not list an attorney for Sunday.

"They tore our safe apart," said Earl Weygandt, 63, an officer of the Donegal American Legion in Westmoreland County. "I think they got around $5,000 — which is a lot of what we make in the bar part. It was to go to the bank that morning.

"We got new security systems after that."

The grand jury presentment does not detail a total amount stolen. The thefts stretched from Wagner's Market in West Deer to the Holiday Inn in O'Hara to the Plum American Legion, from 2004 until 2008, according to the grand jury.

Also charged in the ring are Sunday's brother, Michael Sunday, 45, of Shaler; Sunday's girlfriend, Stacey Hanus, 45, of Etna; Margaret Reynolds, 45, of Greenfield; and James Watson, 67, of Charleston, W.Va.

Reynolds and Watson remain at large. Michael Sunday and Hanus were arrested Tuesday, Zappala said. Stowe police arrested Timothy Sunday in October 2008 for a burglary at Preston Fire Department. He has been in jail since, Zappala said.

Police assembled a task force in 2007 to address the burglaries. It included officers from Shaler, Etna, Indiana, West Deer, Northern Regional, Hampton, Pittsburgh police and detectives from the district attorney's office, Zappala said.

Police relied on three confidential informants and the installation of a GPS tracker on Hanus' 1992 Cadillac El Dorado, according to the grand jury.

Zappala said detectives staked out two burglary sites and watched as Timothy Sunday tried to enter the businesses.

"We were trying to clear a lot of felonies, not just one," Zappala said about why detectives did not arrest Sunday at those times.

Jim Anderson, 72, owner of Anso Inc. in Hampton, said his night watchman scared off burglars in December 2007 who got inside his auto auction business.

"I don't think they got anything big, but we had to put a new front door on and several windows were broken," Anderson said. "It cost me at least $1,500. I'm happy they're caught."

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