A homeless teenager stands accused of stealing outgoing mail from rural mailboxes in Berks County.
Pablo David Martinez was seen taking mail from various mailboxes in the 5700 and 7300 blocks of Route 183, also known as Bernville Road, in Jefferson and Penn townships around 10 a.m. Wednesday, police said.
"He was dressed in a black leather coat with full face mask with an old-fashioned looking hat on. He looked bizarre," said Jeffrey Updegrove, who owns a business on Bernville Road. "I just ran out the door and asked him what he was doing at our mailbox and not to go in them anymore. He left and went across the street and went into another mailbox."
Updegrove said he noticed Martinez had checks and other mail stuffed inside his coat, prompting him to call state police. Then, he said, he took matters into his own hands.
"We followed him in our work truck, and we just stayed visual on him. We just wanted to make sure that the state police knew where he was," said Updegrove.
A trooper responded and took Martinez, 18, of Kissimmee, Fla., into custody in the 7600 block of Bernville Road.
Martinez was found to have more than $1,000 worth of checks from nearby residents that were prepared for outgoing mail, police said.
During questioning, Martinez, who said he was homeless and looking for "a ride up north," told troopers he didn't know why he took the checks.
"It was stupid to do that," Martinez said.
"He knew he couldn't cash the checks. He really didn't offer any explanations as to why he was doing it, for what reason, but he did say he knew he couldn't cash the checks," said Trooper David Beohm, Pa. State Police, adding that Martinez has no criminal history.
Martinez was charged with theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and criminal trespassing. He was arraigned and committed to the Berks County Jail on $100,000 bail.
Updegrove said he's glad Martinez is off the streets.
"It's a quite neighborhood, good neighbors and everybody looks after each other," said Updegrove.