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Man Charged with Theft of Penn State Truck from Near Beaver Stadium

by on September 28, 2017 1:05 PM

A Penn State Altoona student is facing theft charges after he allegedly stole a Penn State truck from near Beaver Stadium.

Jack McWilliams, 18, of North Wales, is charged with felony counts of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property, a misdemeanor count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and a summary count of driving without a license. Police say he stole the truck on Sept. 9, the day of the Penn State-Pitt game, from the Office of Physical Plant lot across from the stadium, then abandoned it in Altoona.

According to a criminal complaint, at about 5 a.m. on Sept. 10, Altoona police found a Penn State-owned Chevrolet Colorado abandoned and partially blocking the roadway on 13th Street. Penn State Police determined the truck was taken from the OPP lot during or after the game the day before.

Upon inspection, police observed fresh damage to the passenger-side front bumper, which was dented and had blue paint transfer. An officer also observed a gas can on the floor.

The Penn State employee assigned to the vehicle reportedly told police the key was left inside the truck and that the last time he drove it the low fuel light was on. He said he did not keep a gas can in the truck.

An employee at an Altoona gas station told police she remembered a Penn State OPP truck running out of gas in the store parking lot on Sept. 9. She provided a description of the driver and said he appeared intoxicated. The driver struck the guard poles surrounding the gas pumps then borrowed $5 from another customer to pre-pay for gas. 

According to the complaint, the driver pulled up to the wrong side of the pump, and when the hose couldn't reach he borrowed a gas can from the store, which he then filled and put in the gas tank. He then left in the truck and stole the gas can, police said.

Police reviewed surveillance video footage and said it corroborated the store employee's account. Still shots from the video were sent out with a crime alert on Sept. 18, and later that day police received an anonymous tip from a Penn State Altoona student. The student reportedly said the suspect pictured was named Jack and that he lived on the fourth floor of a campus dormitory. Police said they found McWilliams was the only "Jack" to live on the floor of the identified residence hall.

A search warrant was obtained for McWilliams' university ID swipe card, and police say the card activity showed he attempted to use it to enter a building at University Park on Sept. 9. Video footage for the building showed McWilliams dressed in the same clothes he was wearing in the gas station video, according to the complaint.

Police received another search warrant for McWilliams' residence in Altoona and reportedly seized the sweatshirt and shoes he was observed wearing in the surveillance video.

On Sept. 20, police interviewed McWilliams, who allegedly admitted to being at the Penn State-Pitt game, stealing the truck and driving it back to Altoona because he had no other ride. Police said he discussed stopping at the gas station and leaving the truck abandoned. He then reportedly provided a written statement.

McWilliams was arraigned on Wednesday before District Judge Charity Nileski and released on his own recognizance. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 4.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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