The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

September 11, 2013

2 suspected burglars caught leaving house

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

SHENANGO VALLEY — Two people believed to have taken part in a recent string of robberies in Shenango Township, Hermitage, and Lackawannock Township were caught Monday just after leaving a house they allegedly robbed, police said.

Tracy Linn Hassel, 32, of 2239 Woodbine Drive, Hermitage, and Steven Terrance Mortland, 24, of 3028 Valley View Road, South Pymatuning Township, were arrested by Southwest Mercer County Regional police after they responded to a report of a burglary in progress in the 100 block of Jackson Road, Shenango Township, at 12:23 p.m.

Police saw the gray car in which the pair were making their getaway on Jackson Road approaching state Route 318.

After the car pulled over in the Shenango Township municipal building parking lot, police approached the car at gunpoint and, after spotting a television in the back seat, arrested Hassel and Mortland.

“We were fortunate; the guys were about a mile away when call came in and were able to catch them as they were leaving,” police Chief Riley Smoot said about the patrolmen who responded to the 911 call.

A search warrant for the car signed by District Judge Ronald Antos yielded two flat screen TVs and other items from the home on Jackson Road, as well as a large amount of marijuana in two clear cylinder tubes, police said.

Smoot said they can tie Hassel and Mortland to two other robberies in their area and that Hermitage and state police each have one or more cases where the two are suspects.

Smoot credits word of mouth through the community as instrumental in catching the pair.

“We got a lot of calls on suspicious vehicles and suspicious people,” Smoot said. “People just paid more attention.”

On Sep. 4 police asked the community for help to catch people who were breaking into homes in the daytime, and to report suspicious vehicles in their neighborhood.

The two burglaries prompting the plea happened in the sub-100 block of Bedford Road, Shenango Township, at 2:09 p.m. Thursday and the 3300 block of Hubbard-West Middlesex Road, Shenango Township at 2:45 p.m. Friday.

Various electronic items were stolen in those robberies, including a total of four flat screen TVs and a Ruger LC9 9mm black handgun, police said.

Smoot said police have not yet found the gun and would not say if there were more people involved in the robbery spree.

“As of right now the investigation is still ongoing.” Smoot said. “We are still interviewing them trying to gather information.”

Hassel and Mortland were both charged with burglary, criminal trespass, theft and receiving stolen property.

Hassel also had a bench warrant from Mercer County courts for failure to appear. She is also being held on a probation detainer warrant.

The pair were arraigned by Antos and taken to Mercer County jail after failing to post $100,000 bond each.