Berks duo charged with $10,000 shoplifting spree in 4 municipalities

Sep. 14—Two Berks County men have been charged with stealing over $10,000 worth of electrical wire, cable and other merchandise from home improvement stores in four municipalities in the county this summer.

Anthony T. Serrano, 45, of the 1800 block of Morgantown Road, Cumru Township, and William C. Price, 60, of the first block of West Madison Street, Mohnton, face felony retail theft and conspiracy counts filed by police in Exeter, Spring Township and Caernarvon townships and Wyomissing.

Investigators said the pair went on a crime spree, hitting Lowe's and The Home Depot, during the morning and early afternoon hours in August.

According to investigators:

They would enter the stores together with a large shopping cart, head straight to the electrical aisle and load spools of wire, cable and, in some of the cases, window air conditioner units. One of the men would push the cart out of the store, bypassing checkout.

Investigators from the police departments compared notes and security camera footage, identifying Serrano in part from his sleeve-length tattoos.

The footage shows the men walking to a Nissan Rogue registered to Price.

They were particularly busy Aug. 23, shoplifting from the Lowe's stores in Exeter and Spring townships. Other thefts included The Home Depot in Wyomissing on Aug. 9; Lowe's in Spring Township on Aug. 18; Lowe's in Caernarvon Township on Aug. 21 and Sept. 2; and Lowe's in Exeter Township on Aug. 28.

Serrano was committed to Berks County Prison in lieu of $160,000 bail following arraignment before District Judge Alvin B. Robinson in Reading Central Court.

Price was not in custody.

Authorities say those who perpetrate large-scale retail thefts often work with a third party, known as a fence, that often pay individuals to steal items on a shopping list.

In June, authorities in Montgomery County broke up what they described as a major theft ring responsible for retails thefts in Berks, Montgomery and Lehigh counties.

Joseph A. Payea, 67, and Penelope L. McClain, 49, both of the Macungie area in Lehigh County, paid people to shoplift mainly at Lowe's and Home Depot stores in the three counties, then they sold the merchandise on Facebook marketplace, through personal transactions and at flea markets, the Montgomery County district attorney's office said at the time.

Nearly $100,000 in stolen merchandise was also seized from their residences and a trailer, the DA's office said.