CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield teen has been accused of burglarizing a local grocery store and stealing cigarettes, which were to sell in order for him to get money for food.
Matthew Jordan Short-Houdeshell, 19, has been charged by Officer Alex Burkett of the Clearfield Borough police with burglary, F2; criminal trespass, F2; theft by unlawful, M3; and receiving stolen property, M3.
Houdeshell waived his right to a preliminary hearing during centralized court Wednesday. His bail has been set at $25,000.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, at 12:19 a.m. Aug. 18, officers were dispatched to a reported burglary in progress at the J.G. Food Warehouse. A male was seen inside the manager’s office and he did not have permission to be there.
Upon arrival to the scene, officers observed two males who were standing in the parking lot. Burkett recognized one male as being Houdeshell from prior police encounters. Houdeshell was sweating profusely and his clothing was dirty with a grease-like substance.
Houdeshell was standing with a store employee who told police he made the 911 call. He identified Houdeshell as the male he found inside the store.
Houdeshell claimed he’d been recently hired to work there, but the employee said he wasn’t aware of any new hires, and employees weren’t permitted inside by themselves or inside the manager’s office.
Police proceeded to detain Houdeshell and placed him inside the patrol vehicle. Burkett resumed his interview with the employee who had just unlocked the store and entered for work.
Inside the store, he noticed the door to the manager’s office was open and he observed Houdeshell exit. Houdeshell told the employee that he worked there.
The employee went to the rear of the store to check the schedule. It didn’t indicate anything about a new hire or that anyone, except him and his co-worker, was supposed to be there. He exited the store and called 911 from Sheetz.
Police returned to the patrol vehicle and Houdeshell agreed to speak with Burkett about the incident. He continued to claim he was there for work and never went inside the manager’s office.
Burkett advised Houdeshell there was video surveillance of the entire grocery store, and it was being prepared for his review. He also told Houdeshell the employee witnessed him in the manager’s office, and it would be on the surveillance.
Houdeshell changed his story, telling Burkett he would be seen in the video in the manager’s office. However, this time he claimed that he was looking for paperwork to find out if he’d officially been hired or not.
When asked if he had a key to the store, he said no and that the door was unlocked. Burkett told Houdeshell he knew this was a lie because the employee said he’d unlocked the door, and that he was going to review the video.
Burkett was going to handcuff Houdeshell again when he said he had a pocket knife in his right pocket. He asked Burkett if he wanted him to remove it. Burkett replied no that he would remove it himself.
Burkett then removed a cellular phone, an unopened pack of Newport cigarettes and a folding knife. He told Houdeshell that he knew he didn’t have money for the cigarettes and he would probably see him in the video stealing them.
Houdeshell allegedly admitted to taking the cigarettes from the store. Burkett located another unopened pack of Newport cigarettes in Houdeshell’s other pocket. Houdeshell also admitted he was going to sell the cigarettes for money.
When the assistant manager arrived at the scene, he confirmed there weren’t any new hires. He also confirmed there were only two employees scheduled for work and to be permitted in the store.
The assistant manager called the store manager from the scene, and he spoke to Burkett by phone. He said Houdeshell was not an employee, and he wanted full prosecution of any person inside the store without permission.
The assistant manager scanned the cigarettes, which were located on Houdeshell, and provided Burkett with a receipt. It showed the price as being $7.85 per pack.
When Burkett returned to the patrol car, Houdeshell agreed to answer more questions. When asked how he gained entry, he said he climbed up milk crates and entered through an open window.
Houdeshell said he broke into the grocery store because he didn’t have money for food. He claimed he took the cigarettes to sell them for food instead of just stealing the food.
Upon investigation, officers located an open window. There was broken glass and a neat pile of broken glass to the right of the broken window; there was also a screen and framing removed from the window.
When Burkett examined the window sill, he observed what appeared to be grease lubricating the window’s hinges. Additional broken glass was also located inside the store near a tall stack of boxes that contained potato chips.
Houdeshell admitted to putting the broken glass in a pile, so he didn’t get cut when he made entry. He also admitted that his clothing got dirty when he entered through the window.
Burkett performed HGN on Houdeshell and it detected the presence of nystagmus. Houdeshell – when asked if he’d taken anything – said Xanax earlier because he was “nervous” and “anxious.”