The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

July 3, 2014

Home invaders steal 31 of man’s guns

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Armed robbers kicked down a Sharon man’s front door, struck and tied him up and stole 31 guns early Wednesday from his South Oakland Avenue home.

The 71-year-old victim was upstairs in the 600 block when loud sounds startled him at about midnight or a little later. He found three armed men waiting for him when he went to investigate, police Chief Mike Menster said.

“They roughed him up a little bit, threatening to kill him, and told him not to look at them,” Menster said. “Then they tied him up with electrical cords and put him in a closet.”

He eventually freed himself and got help from a daughter who lives nearby. She called 911 and police arrived at about 1:50 a.m., Menster said.

The victim was treated at the hospital of Sharon Regional Health System for bruises and scrapes left by the cords used to tie him up.

Some of the long guns were stored in a locked wooden cabinet with a chain around them. The robbers carried it out of the house and broke it apart so they could remove the guns it contained, he said.

The victim had been a hunter and also collected other types of guns. Those stolen included several semi-automatic military-style AR-15 and AK-47 rifles. One of the guns was an M-1 carbine dating to World War II.

There were shotguns, rifles used for deer hunting and several revolvers and other semi-automatic handguns. Menster said the value of the stolen guns wasn’t determined yet.

He declined to name the victim but public directories list Ronald Bergkessel as the resident at 672 S. Oakland Ave.

“It worries me that we have at least three criminals out there brazen enough to kick in a door and spend the time to tie up the victim and gather up all these firearms,” Menster said. “Now some of them packing high firepower are very likely being sold on the street. The positive thing is that we have the make, model and serial numbers of all of them. That could help us determine if they’re being sold somewhere.”

Menster said detectives worked through the night gathering evidence from the house.

The men were black and all three wore shorts. One had a bandana over his mouth and one wore a black and white Halloween-style mask,” Menster said.

The department has notified state police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms of the robbery.

“I don’t know if they will be able to assist us but we would be also be interested in information citizens might have,” Menster said. “We urge anyone with information to contact us.”