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As part of a several month investigation into thefts from lockers at the Bethlehem YMCA, The Bethlehem Police Department recently arrested a man in regards to these incidents. Bethlehem Police conducted a traffic stop on George Piha, 50, for violations of the vehicle and traffic law while he was operating a rental vehicle in Slingerlands.
During the stop and subsequent search of the vehicle, police discovered cut up credit cards that Piha had stolen moments prior to the stop from a locker at the Bethlehem YMCA. Police also discovered a wig, disguises to alter facial appearance and several changes of clothes in the vehicle, as well as lock picking equipment and instruction manuals, and over $10,000 in brand new Apple and Microsoft electronic devices.
The investigation determined that the electronic devices located in the vehicle were proceeds of two locker thefts in the previous forty-eight hours, which took place in West Seneca New York (Erie County), and Gates New York (Monroe County). In these cases victim’s credit cards were stolen and immediately used to purchase the electronics that Bethlehem Police subsequently located.
Piha provided an address in Middle Village New York, however the investigation has shown he recently came to the United States from Romania. Piha was arrested and charged with two felony counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth degree, two felony counts of Tampering with Physical Evidence, one felony count of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third degree, and one misdemeanor count of Possession of Burglar’s Tools, as well as violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Law. Piha was arraigned in Bethlehem Town Court and remanded to the Albany County Jail without bail. His case has been transferred to Albany County Court.
As a result of the continuing investigation Piha has been tied to similar incidents of credit card theft from lockers, and subsequent high dollar credit purchases with the stolen cards, from other cases in Albany County, Saratoga County, Rensselaer County, Erie County, Monroe County, Onondaga County and Oneida County. The investigation is on-going with multiple police agencies from the respective counties. Bethlehem Police have also recently executed search warrants in New York City and locally in the furtherance of this investigation.
The investigation is continuing and anyone with information in regards to Piha is asked to contact Bethlehem Police at 518-439-9973.