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Man charged with burglary, trespass

| Wednesday, May 9, 2012, 11:24 p.m.

State police used fingerprints to track down a man they say has peeped inside, prowled around or broken into at least 16 homes in Derry Township during the past three years.

Matthew Rae Cramer, 24, of 1217 Hillview Ave., was arraigned this week on several counts of burglary, theft, criminal trespass and criminal attempt, as well as 37 counts of loitering and prowling at night.

Troopers Lori Bernard and Michael McElfresh say in a criminal complaint that the crimes occurred in the Cooperstown, Clover Hill and Terney Plan neighborhoods. All are near Cramer's home along Route 982, just east of Latrobe.

Police allege that on Oct. 3, Kathleen Burd, of Edwards Street in Cooperstown, awoke at 2:55 a.m. to find an intruder in her home.

She told police the tall, white man was in her bedroom and had removed cash from her purse. When she yelled at him from her bed, the intruder fled through the bedroom window.

Police took fingerprints from the window the intruder had used to enter the home. A search of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System database determined the prints had been left by Cramer.

McElfresh and Bernard then interviewed Cramer about the break-in.

"He admitted to have burglarized her home on several occasions and taking money from her purse," the troopers said. "He also admitted to numerous other instances of looking into windows of homes, trying to open windows and doors to gain entry, and to some other burglaries."

Cramer told police "his activity began about two or three years ago, and that he sometimes moved lawn furniture for better access to windows," the troopers said. "He related that these incidents occurred at night and he would linger at a residence for a half an hour to an hour, watching the home and sometimes its occupants."

Police said Cramer admitted to watching women in homes on Penn Avenue on as many as 15 occasions, including once when he was chased from the scene.

Cramer told police that he broke into a Raymond Avenue home on Aug. 16 after watching a woman through a window on a previous occasion.

From June through October, Cramer allegedly tried to enter the windows and doors of several homes along Edwards and Branwell streets, as well.

Cramer also repeatedly spied on occupants of homes along George Street, Richmond Street and Hillview Avenue. On at least one occasion, he attempted to enter a home through a screen door.

Other attempted break-ins occurred last month on Clover Drive. On Oct. 17, Cramer was scared away by a homeowner, police said. On Oct. 30, Cramer said he entered the laundry room of the same residence and "was spooked by someone inside."

Cramer also admitted to having been in the home before and stealing money, police said.

Cramer was lodged in the Westmoreland County Prison in lieu of $30,000 straight bond. He faces a preliminary hearing Nov. 10 before Derry Township District Justice Mark Bilik.

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