Berks man got cash for returning tools he didn't buy, police say
Jan. 30—A Wyomissing man with a recent history of retail theft convictions in Berks County is accused by investigators of four municipalities of employing a ruse to get hundreds of dollars in cash refunds at Home Depot and Lowe's stores.
Brian Potteiger, 35, was wanted on arrest warrants from police departments in Exeter, Muhlenberg and Spring townships and Wyomissing when he was taken into custody this month. Potteiger, whose last known address was in the 400 block of Greenwich Street, is being held in the county prison in lieu of a total of $50,000 bail in eight cases.
Potteiger is charged with retail theft, receiving stolen property and theft by deception in all the cases.
Investigators allege Potteiger would enter the stores with no merchandise and go to the tool or hardware section where he would select one or more power drills or accessories. He would take those items to the service desk and request a cash refund, submitting a crumpled receipt for purchases he made hours earlier of identical items at the same or different area Home Depot or Lowe's store.
According to investigators:
On Nov. 11, a loss prevention officer at the Home Depot at 1731 Crossing Drive in Wyomissing saw Potteiger, whom he recognized from previous return frauds, and confronted him after he received a $277 cash refund for tool organizers he had selected from the hardware department.
The officer identified himself as a loss prevention officer, but Potteiger was uncooperative and ran from the store, getting into a car and driving away. The officer provided a detailed description of Potteiger, the car he was driving and its license plate. Potteiger was also identified as the suspect in a return scheme at the same store on Nov. 2.
Spring police also identified Potteiger as a suspect in Lowe's thefts on Oct. 29 and Nov. 2 at the store along Route 724.
On Nov. 17, a loss prevention office at the Lowe's along Fifth Street Highway in Muhlenberg provided police with the license plate number along with other identifying information of the suspect who used a similar scheme to get fraudulent refunds on Nov. 5.
Exeter police obtained arrest warrants against Potteiger for thefts on Nov. 6 and 10 at the Lowe's store along Perkiomen Avenue.
Wyomissing police also had outstanding warrants for a pair of retail thefts that occurred in late 2021.
Investigators said Potteiger had four retail theft convictions in 2021 in Wyomissing and Exeter.