Piha charged with YMCA locker thefts

George Piha

George Piha

BETHLEHEM — A traffic stop in Slingerlands has led to the arrest of George Piha, 50, for a string of thefts from lockers at the Bethlehem YMCA, according to a release from the Bethlehem Police who are investigating Piha’s ties to locker thefts across the state.

Searching Piha’s rental car, police discovered cut-up credit cards that Piha had stolen from a YMCA locker moments prior to the stop, the release says; police also discovered a wig, disguises to alter facial appearance, and several changes of clothes in the vehicle, as well as lock-picking equipment and instruction manuals, and over $10,000 in brand new Apple and Microsoft electronic devices.

The electronic devices were proceeds of two locker thefts in the previous 48 hours, which took place in West Seneca (Erie County), and Gates (Monroe County), the release said; victims’ credit cards were stolen and immediately used to purchase the electronics that Bethlehem Police subsequently located.

Piha provided an address in Middle Village, New York; however, the investigation has shown he recently came to the United States from Romania, the release said.

Piha was charged with two felony counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property; two felony counts of tampering with physical evidence; third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a felony; possession of burglar’s tools, a misdemeanor; and violations of the Vehicle and Traffic Law.

Piha was arraigned in Bethlehem Town Court and remanded to the Albany County’s jail without bail.  His case has been transferred to Albany County Court.

Piha has been tied to similar incidents of credit-card theft from lockers, and subsequent high-dollar credit purchases with the stolen cards, from other cases in Albany, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Erie, Monroe, Onondaga, and Oneida counties. The investigation is ongoing with multiple police agencies from the various counties involved.

Bethlehem Police have executed search warrants in New York City and locally to further the investigation. Anyone with information regarding Piha is asked to contact Bethlehem Police at 518-439-9973.


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