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TV thief about to be released gets bad news

David Riker
N.Y. warrant discovered

Talk about tough luck.

On the day he was to be released from the Butler County Prison after serving a 6-month stint for shoplifting a half dozen television sets, David A. Riker’s thoughts of freedom were abruptly dashed.

A corrections officer on Wednesday, making a last-minute check of the soon-to-be-departing prisoner’s records, discovered Riker was wanted by authorities in New York.

Instead of heading home a free man, the 38-year-old inmate, who in police and court records lists addresses in Lyndora and Middletown, N.Y., is now awaiting extradition to the Empire State, where he’s accused of shoplifting seven air conditioners.

Riker’s stay at the county prison began Sept. 11 after Butler police arrested him for stealing six televisions — over a two-week period — from the Kmart store in Butler.

City police said he first struck at the store about 6 p.m. Aug. 30. Investigators believe he made his way to the garden center, unlocking and opening the exit door to test if the alarm was set.

When he found it was safe, he placed two 32-inch TVs, valued at $280 each, into a shopping cart and left through the door, according to court documents.

He returned to the store about two hours later, police said, and stole two more TVs — 32-inch and 24-inch models, valued at a combined $420.

The television thefts were not discovered until Sept. 4.

But before Riker was identified as the suspect, he was back at the Kmart, this time stealing a pair of DVD players, valued at $30 each, documents said.

In that alleged theft Sept. 5, police said, he lifted those items above his head as he walked past the door’s electronic sensor to avoid setting off the alarms.

Riker returned again to the same store Sept. 10 and swiped two more televisions, worth $440 each, using the same technique as he did Aug. 30, police said.

All the suspected crimes were caught on store surveillance video.

At the time of the TV theft spree, Riker was free on his own recognizance stemming from his arrest for shoplifting a container of coffee creamer Dec. 29, 2014, at the Family Dollar store in Butler.

In all the cases, police charged him with felony retail theft, due to his criminal record in New York that includes two prior shoplifting convictions.

He eventually pleaded guilty to the felony charges for taking the TVs, and to a reduced count of misdemeanor retail theft in the coffee creamer caper.

Judge Timothy McCune on Jan. 21 sentenced him in all the cases to a combined 6 to 12 months in the county prison and 4 years’ probation.

He was scheduled to be released this week, having served the lower end of the sentence, when the out-of-state warrant turned up in the inmate’s criminal records check.

It turned out that New York authorities had issued the warrant Feb. 26, 2015, but it went unnoticed here until Wednesday. He was wanted for failing to appear at a court hearing in a case of shoplifting there.

In that case, New York State Police in August 2013 charged Riker and four others after they led troopers on a chase in a car loaded with seven air conditioners stolen from a Walmart in Orange County, according to a police report,

Butler County Prison officials, after finding the warrant, contacted state police in New York, who advised they would extradite Riker, according to county detectives.

On Wednesday, detectives charged the suspect with being a fugitive from justice. Authorities said that Riker is being held on that charge, without bail, pending his extradition.