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Farm owner snares pair during Salem stakeout

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Thursday, July 3, 2014, 10:30 p.m.

Two Westmoreland County men were jailed on prowling and attempted burglary charges after they were snared in a trap set by a Salem woman who said she grew tired of thieves stealing scrap metal from the family farm, according to state police.

Keith L. Jessman, 34, of Greensburg, and Dennis P. Zatezalo, 30, of Latrobe, were charged by state police at Kiski with conspiracy, attempted burglary, possessing instruments of crime, criminal trespass, loitering and prowling, and disorderly conduct after they were arrested shortly before 2 a.m. on Thursday near a farm along Route 819.

Trooper James Daggett reported in an affidavit of probable cause that the property owner, Amy Johnson, decided to “stake out” the property.

Daggett said Johnson and a male friend were hiding in bushes near a barn on the property early Thursday when they saw two men, Jessman and Zatezalo, carrying flashlights as they entered the barn. Johnson telephoned state police, who dispatched two troopers.

As troopers arrived, the two men ran from the barn and through a field in the direction of Johnson and her friend. When the two men surrendered, police confiscated knives from both.

Jessman told Daggett his pickup “truck had run out of gas and they were looking for a gas can.”

Jessman and Zatazalo were arraigned before Washington Township District Judge Jason Buczak and committed to the county jail after failing to post $50,000 bond each. Preliminary hearings are scheduled July 14 before Buczak.

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