Fran­co­nia man jailed for thefts

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @mont­co­court­news on Twit­ter

NORRISTOWN >> A Fran­co­nia man was sent to jail af­ter he ad­mit­ted to steal­ing land­scap­ing equip­ment from sev­eral busi­nesses in Mont­gomery and Bucks coun­ties.

Brian Thomas Gragg, 44, of the 600 block of Mor­wood Road, was sen­tenced in Mont­gomery County Court to 11½ to 23 months in the county jail af­ter he pleaded guilty to a mis­de­meanor charge of theft by un­law­ful tak­ing in con­nec­tion with in­ci­dents that oc­curred in May 2017. Judge Wil­liam R. Car­pen­ter also or­dered Gragg to com­plete three years’ pro­ba­tion fol­low­ing pa­role, mean­ing Gragg will be un­der court su­per­vi­sion for about five years.

The judge said Gragg must pay $6,534 in resti­tu­tion to the seven theft vic­tims. The vic­tims or the com­pa­nies they worked for were lo­cated in Up­per Gwynedd, Lower Sal­ford and Towa­mencin town­ships in Mont­gomery County and in New Bri­tain Town­ship in Bucks County, ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Judge Car­pen­ter or­dered Gragg to stay away from the vic­tims as a con­di­tion of the sen­tence.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan on May 23, 2017, af­ter Lower Sal­ford po­lice re­ceived a re­port of the theft of three back­pack blow­ers from a Telford area land­scaper’s trailer that was parked in the 300 block of Hamil­ton Drive while work­ers were cut­ting grass at the Rose­cliff Manor de­vel­op­ment. The three blow­ers were val­ued at $600 each, ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors ob­tained video surveil­lance footage from res­i­dents of the de­vel­op­ment that de­picted a male op­er­at­ing a Dodge Du­rango who was in the area at the time the blow­ers were stolen, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint. When po­lice dis­trib­uted an “at­tempt to iden­tify flyer” con­tain­ing two of the surveil­lance pho­tos they re­ceived a tip that led them to Gragg.

It was soon de­ter­mined that Up­per Gwynedd po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing mul­ti­ple re­ports of land­scap­ing equip­ment be­ing stolen from land­scap­ers’ trail­ers while they were parked at job sites in the town­ship be­tween May 15 and May 17, 2017, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint. Wit­nesses re­ported see­ing a sus­pi­cious man in the area, who was driv­ing a blue SUV, at the time of the thefts.

When po­lice placed Gragg’s res­i­dence un­der surveil­lance they ob­served him op­er­at­ing a blue Dodge Du­rango which fit the de­scrip­tion of the ve­hi­cle de­picted in the surveil­lance video that recorded the May 23 theft in Lower Sal­ford.

Po­lice sub­se­quently learned that po­lice in New Bri­tain Town­ship, Bucks County, and in Towa­mencin Town­ship, also were in­ves­ti­gat­ing sim­i­lar thefts of land­scap­ing equip­ment dur­ing the same time pe­riod, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

Cell­phone anal­y­sis even­tu­ally de­ter­mined that Gragg’s phone was in the vicin­ity of sev­eral of the thefts when they oc­curred.

When Gragg was con­fronted with the thefts he ad­mit­ted to sev­eral of them. How­ever, when ques­tioned he couldn’t re­call be­ing on the streets where some of the oth­ers oc­curred. Gragg al­legedly told in­ves­ti­ga­tors, “It doesn’t mean I didn’t do it, but I don’t re­mem­ber do­ing that one,” ac­cord­ing to court pa­pers.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors also un­cov­ered a May 23 text con­ver­sa­tion on Gragg’s cell­phone dur­ing which he asked a man if he was in­ter­ested in buy­ing land­scap­ing equip­ment, specif­i­cally, five blow­ers, ac­cord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

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