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Lehigh Valley

Allentown men jailed after trying to steal $11K in baby formula

They crashed trying to outrun police officers

L. NAZARETH TWP., Pa. - Police arrested a pair of Allentown men this weekend after they drove headlong toward officers and crashed their SUV trying to steal about $11,000 in baby formula from a Lower Nazareth Township warehouse.

Alberto Portes, of Law Street, and Elvis Polanco, of South 14th Street, are facing theft and conspiracy charges following their arrests early Saturday morning at the C & S Wholesale Warehouse at 4820 Hanoverville Road. District Judge Richard Yetter arraigned both men Saturday afternoon, setting bail for each at $65,000.

The Colonial Regional Police Department had been investigating employee thefts of baby formula from C & S Wholesale. Company security determined that thieves using an employee card belonging to Portes were accessing the property and arriving in a white Kia SUV, according to court records.

Security set up surveillance Saturday morning and was notified shortly after 5 a.m. that Portes’ ID was scanned, according to records. Surveillance video caught two men enter the building, while another two drove a gray and a white SUV to a loading dock.

The men inside the building were seen on surveillance video using a forklift and a pallet jack to remove a pallet of baby formula from the shelf and move it to the loading dock.

Security called Colonial Regional, and officers arrived as a gray Acura SUV started to leave. The vehicle allegedly drove straight at the officers, who swerved to avoid a head-on collision.

As police chased the SUV through the C & S property, it sped around a corner so fast that it took the turn on two wheels, police said. Police apprehended the Portes and Polanco after they crashed into a gate.

Police said the wrecked Acura was full of baby formula, and that they found the Kia SUV still on the property also full of formula. Polanco was allegedly behind the wheel of the Acura and Portes was his passenger. Portes said a third man known only at “Papo” was also involved.

Staff told police they believed that Portes and Polanco had stolen 120 cases of formula valued at $11,008.

Authorities charged Portes and Polanco each with single felony counts of theft and conspiracy. Polanco also faces three counts of reckless endangerment. Neither man posted bail. They were sent to Northampton County Prison to await preliminary hearings scheduled for June 16.

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