by Pete Mazzaccaro
Hill resident George Coates was working in the third floor office space of his Bethlehem Pike home at around 1 p.m., when he got an unexpected call from his housekeeper, who was in the house at the time, below, on the first floor.
She was watching two boys walk down Coates’ driveway to the garage behind the house.
“We have a lot of neighborhood friends and kids come over all the time, so I thought maybe it was someone she didn’t know,” Coates said.
He walked downstairs to check it out and didn’t recognize the boys, who had each grabbed a bike belonging to Coates family members – his wife and son.
“They were starting to ride the bikes out of the garage when they saw me, at which point they got off, but they walked up to me,” Coates said.
Coates asked them what was going on.
“What are you doing here?”
“Well John said we could come get these bikes.”
“John who? What’s his last name?”
The boys didn’t have a good answer.
“I think you need to leave.”
Coates said the boys then put the bikes down and began to walk slowly past him up the driveway towards the street. When he took his phone out of his pocket to call 911, the boys broke into a sprint.
What happened next, Coates said, was surprisingly effective police work. While he was still standing in the driveway, 90 seconds or so after the call, 14th District police officers Thomas Seymour and Kimberli Harris pulled up to his house.
“They came hot down Bethlehem Pike,” Coates said. “They pulled up and asked, ‘Which way?’ and I pointed out towards Stenton Avenue.”
Harris and Seymour caught the boys and Coates identified them as the ones who had tried to steal the bikes from his garage.
According to Police Public Affairs, the boys, who are being treated as minors, are 16 and 18 respectively. Both have been charged with one count of criminal conspiracy, one count of theft and one count of receiving stolen property.
Coates said that Seymour had told him he had been hoping to find who had been responsible for about five bicycle thefts in Chestnut Hill over the last few months. Each theft had been of two bicycles, and Seymour was hopeful the two boys who had been caught in Coates’ yard would solve the problem.
“When we have officers specially assigned to this ZIP code and they’re always nearby, I think it makes a big difference,” Coates said.