Couple warns of ‘smash and grab’ thief in trail parking lot in Monroeville

A local couple is warning the public about a destructive “smash and grab” thief who broke into their vehicle in Monroeville.

It happened last Tuesday, while they were walking the Westmoreland Heritage Trail. They returned to the parking lot, located off Saunders Station Road, and discovered their front passenger side window smashed to pieces. A wallet, which had been hidden within the vehicle, was gone.

“I think everyone at some point is guilty of placing an item or personal belonging underneath their seat, their mat, wherever,” said Lauren Eichler. “Mine was kind of hidden out of sight.”

Still, the thief or thieves managed to snag it, obtaining Lauren’s credit and debit cards along with other identifying information. On Friday, she discovered that more than a thousand dollars had been stolen from her bank account. She is currently in the process of recovering it.

Eichler showed Channel 11 a copy of a check that the thieves attempted to cash in her name as the payee for $1,600. She said the attempt was made at a PNC Bank in Cumberland County. The payer noted on the check is a porta-potty business based out of Ohio.

Channel 11 called the business and spoke with the owner, who preferred to not be named. He claimed that his business checks were recently stolen during a series of car break-ins near Canton, Ohio. The checkbook had been in his wife’s purse, which was taken. The owner stated he has been in contact with the police and closed the bank accounts.

Eichler also filed a report, with Monroeville Police, and she told Channel 11 that the responding officer had indicated that others had been targeted by thieves in the area.

“Apparently, there have been several break-ins down here,” Eichler said.

Channel 11 reached out to the Monroeville Chief to see how many reports have been taken, and to see if investigators have identified a suspect.

Eichler contacted Channel 11 to notify the community about the smash and grab.

She and her boyfriend, Blase Baker, said they’d like to see cameras added to the area, and they hope the thief or thieves will be caught before victimizing anyone else.

“I work at 4:30 in the morning and until midnight had to deal with canceling accounts and figuring out how I can even get to work and everything,” Baker said. “And it’s just heartbreaking when you see it happen to a bunch of other people.”

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