Guard at Scott retirement community charged in thefts
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Scott police said a nighttime security guard at the sprawling Providence Point retirement community stole as much as $150,000 worth of jewelry and valuables from residents over the course of several months by breaking into their apartments with a stolen master key.
Steven P. Kowalski, 49, was charged Friday with two counts of burglary and faces others stemming from 13 burglaries, which were reported between October and December, said Scott police Sgt. Jeff Skees. The sergeant had long suspected the culprit was an employee of Providence Point but struggled to narrow down the possibilities.
He got a break on Thursday, when a resident went to the hospital and returned to find her deadbolt unlocked. She continued into her apartment and discovered a man crouching behind her chair. She confronted him from the hallway, but he covered his face with a cushion and then pushed the cushion into her face so she couldn't see him, Sgt. Skees said. He walked away from her with his back turned.
Still, the woman was able to make out his dark hair and clothing, giving police a description that led them to Mr. Kowalski. Pawn records showed "a lot of activity" by Mr. Kowalski, who generally admitted to the crimes under Sgt. Skees' questioning.
"These were crimes of opportunity," the sergeant said. "He was just trying to keep up with the bills."
Among the items taken were jewelry and at least eight sets of silverware, only one of which has been recovered. Police estimated the worth of the loot at between $125,000 and $150,000.
Sgt. Skees said Mr. Kowalski would wait until residents were on vacation or receiving medical care to break into their homes. When the complex changed the locks in February, Mr. Kowalski took a new key, the sergeant said.
Court records show he posted $10,000 bond and was released from the Allegheny County Jail. He could not be reached for comment Monday night.
First Published June 5, 2012 12:00 am