CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield man will be spending time in state prison for breaking into vehicles parked at churches during services.
Larry David Tobias, 35, pleaded guilty Monday during colloquy court to F2 theft by unlawful taking.
President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman sentenced him to 18 months to five years in state prison. He must pay restitution of $790 to the victims.
Prior to sentencing, Ammerman commented that the actions of Tobias “irritated a large number of people,” adding that the only type of theft that would irritate more people would be stealing from orphanages.
He asked Tobias what made him go out “on that fateful day and to all those churches?”
Tobias responded “Christmas. And rent.”
Tobias was charged originally with two felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, a felony count of possession of firearm prohibited, two felony counts of receiving stolen property, three misdemeanor counts of receiving stolen property and three counts of theft from a motor vehicle. Ammerman noted that the district attorney’s office had “lumped” all the thefts together.
The charges stem from incidents when Tobias entered several vehicles parked at the First Baptist Church of Curwensville and Community Baptist Church both in Pike Township and the Missionary Alliance Church of Curwensville in Curwensville Borough.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, police received a report Dec. 4 that cash had been removed from a vehicle at the First Baptist Church sometime between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Surveillance video showed a purple vehicle driving through the lot during the morning worship services. The driver of this vehicle got out and started opening numerous car doors and then entering the vehicles.
He also looked inside the church where the church’s younger children would be located at that time. Later another victim from that location reported a hunting rifle was missing from his vehicle.
The next day there was a report of a theft from a vehicle that had been in the lot of the Missionary Alliance Church during their morning service. The item missing was another hunting rifle.
Police were able to identify the owner of the vehicle that the thief was driving and found the car parked at 96 Putty Rd., in Clearfield. When they knocked on the door, it was opened by Tobias.
He was questioned about the thefts and he confessed to committing the crimes. He explained he took money, GPS systems and the two rifles. He showed the officer where the items were located in the residence, police said.
During transport to the police station, Tobias expressed great remorse and said he wanted to return the items, but wasn’t sure how to do it.
In his statement to police, Tobias admitted to the thefts again and stated he did this because he was unemployed and desperately needed money for Christmas gifts and bills, according to the complaint.