Hempfield couple charged in thefts

| Monday, March 10, 2014, 11:27 p.m.

A Hempfield couple were arraigned Monday on allegations they left their 9-year-old son home alone while they stole from cars in Greensburg.

A witness spotted Jesse Raymond Brown, 30, and Nicole Elaine Brown, 28, rummaging through a 2004 BMW shortly before 5 a.m. Monday on Stark Avenue, Greensburg police said. The pair fled as officers arrived.

Authorities used descriptions and a trail of dropped items to find the couple shortly afterward.

Police said they discovered Jesse Brown behind a bush on Hamel Avenue, wet, covered in dirt and with cuts on his body. His wife was spotted walking along Tremont Avenue in a red hoodie and carrying a flashlight, gloves and a large purse, according to court papers.

Jesse Brown told police he and his wife were breaking into cars “because he owed someone money,” according to a police affidavit.

His wife said she and her husband were going through vehicles “because they don't have jobs and needed money,” police said.

Nicole Brown said she has applied for Social Security disability payments.

Police found a woman's bracelet and a belly ring in Jesse Brown's left front pocket, the affidavit said. He said he got the items from a vehicle, police said.

As Jesse Brown talked to police, his cellphone went off and a text message from his wife appeared, officers said.

“Nicole's reply was, ‘Drop whatever you have and walk toward Sunoco,' ” Patrolman John Carnes wrote in the affidavit. “Jesse Brown stated it was his wife with him.”

Police said Nicole Brown's purse was “heavy” and contained numerous electronic devices, compact discs and loose change.

Later, police learned the couple had left their child home alone. Officers spoke with the Westmoreland County Children's Bureau, then had Jesse Brown's mother take the child.

During questioning, Jesse Brown admitted leaving his son home alone “because originally they were only going to the store to get something and come right back. Instead, they ended up going to the car,” according to the affidavit.

Jesse Brown's blue Chevrolet Cavalier was discovered in the area of the car break-ins, police said.

Two Stark Avenue residents identified two GPS units, an MP3 player and tanning lotion as taken from their vehicles, police said.

The Browns were arraigned before Greensburg District Judge James Albert. Each was jailed in lieu of posting $5,000 straight bond.

The couple face a preliminary hearing on March 20 on charges including endangering the welfare of a child, conspiracy, theft, receiving stolen property, theft from a motor vehicle and loitering and prowling at night.

Jesse Brown asked Albert whether he could reschedule his preliminary hearing because March 20 is his 31st birthday.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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