ZELIENOPLE — A Jackson Township man is accused of breaking into a borough home and stealing about $15,000 in jewelry.
The suspect, 29-year-old Robert C. Rinehart III, allegedly sold some of the stolen items for money to buy heroin, Zelienople police said.
Rinehart is wanted on an arrest warrant on charges of burglary and trespass, and 16 counts each of theft and receiving stolen property, all felonies.
Police believe Rinehart on Jan. 18 broke into the home of Jaime and Michael Lippert Sr.
He allegedly ransacked a bedroom, stealing numerous pieces of jewelry. Also taken were a pair of Samsung Galaxy tablet computers and a birth certificate.
A day later, police got a call from Matthew Jewelers in the borough after a woman showed up there trying to sell a gold ring and pendant, according to court documents.
The store, which appraised the ring at $6,000 and the pendant at $500, did not buy the jewelry over concern that the items could be stolen.
Police said they later showed photographs of the ring and pendant to the Lipperts, who identified the pieces as theirs.
Investigators on Jan. 20 tracked down the woman who tried to sell the items. Police have not charged her in the case.
She claimed Rinehart had asked her to sell the ring and pendant.
The woman also admitted that on the day of the burglary she drove Rinehart to a Pittsburgh area gold store, where he traded some jewelry for $400.
Police suspect that jewelry was stolen from the Lipperts house.
“From there,” according to a police affidavit, “(the woman) drove Rinehart to meet a friend in Pittsburgh to purchase heroin.”
She told investigators that she didn’t question the suspect about the jewelry, police said, because she assumed he had stolen it from a family member.
The woman said on Jan. 19 she sold for Rinehart a gold ring with blue and white diamonds for $31 at King’s Jewelers in Cranberry Township. Police believe Rinehart had taken that ring in the break-in, too.
Some of the other stolen jewelry turned up Jan. 20 at the Zelienople Community Park, where Rinehart allegedly stashed it. But police said, many of the pieces are still missing.
In all, documents noted, the stolen property is valued at a combined $15,800.