Erie area man gets jail, probation for 2022 car wash burglaries

May 25—Causing more than $80,000 in damage for two burglaries at the same Vernon Township car wash last year to feed his drug habit has earned an Erie-area man almost two years in jail plus probation.

Benjamin D. Kightlinger, 26, was sentenced Wednesday in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas after pleading guilty in April to two second-degree felony counts of burglary. He admitted to burglarizing the 5 Star Auto Wash on Conneaut Lake Road on June 8 and 10, 2022.

Pennsylvania State Police charged Kightlinger for the burglaries.

The 5 Star Auto Wash is a two-bay, self-service automatic vehicle wash with automated cashier machines for each bay.

In the early-morning hours of June 10, troopers were responding to a burglary in progress at the car wash when they saw Kightlinger breaking into a cashier machine, Craig Howe, Crawford County's first assistant district attorney, told the court on Wednesday.

When Kightlinger was captured by troopers, he admitted it was his second burglary at the property within two days in order to get money to buy drugs, Howe said. Police found a crowbar, drill and gloves at the the scene.

Judge Mark Stevens sentenced Kightlinger to serve nine months to 24 months less one day in jail plus serve 36 months of probation for one burglary count. Stevens also sentenced Kightlinger to serve 48 months of probation for the second burglary count. The jail time and probation sentences will run at the same time under the judge's order.

Kightlinger was given credit for 211 days of pre-sentence jail credit.

Stevens also ordered Kightlinger to pay $81,502.83 in restitution for the burglaries — $2,500 to 5 Star Auto Wash and $79,002.83 to Donegal Insurance Co. for the damages that he caused.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at