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Homeless man steals lawn furniture, vandalizes cars for revenge, police say

Published On: Sep 05 2013 02:30:47 PM EDT

A homeless man with a "campsite" near the Minsi Trail Bridge in Bethlehem stole lawn furniture and vandalized cars last month as an act of revenge, officials said.

Joseph Devaney helped police figure out the motive behind the crimes after he was spotted looking into a gold Chevy Malibu and a green Dodge Caravan parked in the 400 block of Market Street in Bethlehem as he was walking his bicycle past them at 12:10 p.m. Aug. 29, officials said.

Police believe Devaney, a self-described alcoholic who drinks a case of beer a day, was looking to steal from both cars, noting he tried the door handle on the Caravan and found it was locked, officials said.


As police were interviewing Devaney at a soup kitchen in the unit block of Market Street about looking into the cars, he told them he had assaulted the father of a male juvenile who had stolen items from his camp site to exact revenge, officials said.

Devaney also told police the juvenile lives in the 900 block of East Market Street, not far from his camp site, officials noted.

Police determined that Devaney was behind the theft of lawn furniture worth $300 from the porch of Scott Bult's home at 908 East Market St. on Aug. 11, officials said, adding that Devaney burned the furniture at his camp site.

Investigators also discovered that Devaney was a suspect in tire slashings reported by Bult's wife Karin and the Bults' neighbor, James Calmer, of 906 East Market St., officials said, noting that the vandalism took place sometime between 11 p.m. Aug. 26 and 7 a.m. Aug. 27.

The damage to Karen Bult's car was $2,100, and the damage to Calmer's vehicle was $600, officials said.

Through interviews with the victims, police learned that Karin Bult has a 13-year-old son, that he has had contact with Devaney, and that Scott Bult was in a fight with Devaney, officials said.

A search of Bethlehem police records found Devaney committed several nuisance crimes recently, including public drunkenness, urinating in public, open burning, using parks after-hours, and slashing the tires of his ex-girlfriend's car, officials said, adding that his criminal history includes arrests for theft, drug violations, giving false identification to law enforcement and fraud. 

Devaney, 48, was arraigned on theft and criminal mischief charges involving the incidents last month and committed to the Northampton County Prison on $20,000 bail, according to court documents.

A preliminary hearing is set for 10 a.m. Sept. 19.