CLEARFIELD – A Woodland man accused of going on a car break-in spree says he committed the crimes to fuel his drug habit.
Eli William Welch-Selfridge, 19, has been charged by Trooper Matthew Peacock of the Clearfield-based state police with 81 counts of theft-related offenses.
Selfridge waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday during centralized court at the Clearfield County Jail. His bail is set at $25,000 unsecured.
The charges stem from an investigation into a crime spree that occurred between Sept. 3 and Oct. 7, 2018 in Clearfield, Centre and Blair counties, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
Selfridge entered three unlocked garages and numerous vehicles, state police said. From the vehicles, he allegedly removed valuables, such as GPS units, tools, firearms, knives, etc.
On Oct. 5, 2018, Trooper Terry Bush of the Rockview-based state police investigated several thefts from motor vehicles in the Philipsburg area.
As part of his investigation, he obtained a photograph of the suspect, which he posted on Facebook to seek the public’s assistance with positive identification.
The next day, Bush received an anonymous tip and the suspect was identified as Selfridge. He was then interviewed by Trooper Dennis Peters at the Clearfield barracks Oct. 7, 2018.
In his written statement, Selfridge said he’d lost his job and figured a “good way to get money” was to break into cars. Also, he allegedly admitted to stealing from cars in Bigler and Philipsburg.
During a subsequent interview with Trooper William Mostyn, Selfridge said he took a camouflage rifle with a scope from a truck in Bigler and hid it at his house.
Mostyn asked Selfridge if he only went “car shopping” in Philipsburg, Bigler and Woodland, and he replied yes and allegedly admitted to having entered 20 or more cars.
On Oct. 9, 2018, Trooper Brian Elensky recovered numerous items from a wooded area along Mutton Hollow Road in Bradford Township.
Some of these items were reported as stolen from vehicles in the Grampian, Curwensville, Houtzdale, Philipsburg and Woodland areas.
Items included a Milwaukee grinder, Fuji water pro camera, Smith & Wesson and Kel Tec 9mm pistols, binoculars and a Nike Elite backpack, state police said.
On Dec. 8, Peacock interviewed Selfridge, who reportedly admitted he was addicted to pills and committed the thefts to “feed his habit.”
He said he took anything of value that would make him money to get more drugs. He said he focused his thefts from vehicles on money and one or two “big ticket” items.
Peacock related state police had recovered various items from along Mutton Hollow Road, and Selfridge related he’d stashed them there.
During his interview, Selfridge admitted to entering unlocked garages and breaking into vehicles in Bigler, Woodland and Mineral Springs in Bradford Township, Curwensville, Grampian and Houtzdale Boroughs and Penn, Brady and Union Townships, all in Clearfield County, and Philipsburg Borough in Centre County.
On Jan. 5, Peacock conducted a follow-up interview with Selfridge and specifically questioned him about video surveillance from a residence near Tyrone in Snyder Township, Blair County.
The video showed a male wearing the same sweatshirt as Selfridge when he allegedly broke into cars in Philipsburg. Selfridge said it appeared to be him entering the vehicle, but he thought the date was wrong.
Peacock asked Selfridge if the male in the video was him, and he said that it was “more than likely me.”