Lehigh Valley

Brooklyn man charged in second theft from Islamic center

Police said the crimes occured almost a year apart

S. WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - A Brooklyn man already facing burglary charges for allegedly breaking into a Lehigh County Islamic center faces more charges in connection to a theft a year earlier.

South Whitehall Township police charged Jerry L. Hinton with misdemeanor counts of theft and receiving stolen property for allegedly stealing donations in June 2016 from the Al-Ahad Islamic Center. The 52-year-old was already facing felony burglary and criminal trespass charges for allegedly burglarizing the center on June 5.

Authorities accuse Hinton in this month’s break-in of crashing into a township police cruiser as he tried to escape.

In June 18, 2016, a man arrived at the Islamic center at 1500 Ridgeview Dr. in South Whitehall Township and asked to pray in the mosque, according to court records. A council member led the man later identified as Hinton to a prayer area.

When he returned, he noticed Hinton kneeling with a backpack near a donation box, according to records. The witness left to retrieve a Quran that Hinton had requested and returned to find him trying to enter the female prayer area. That’s when he left the mosque.

He discovered that the locks on the donation box had been cut and $600 to $1,000 stolen. The witness told police that he was unable to get a license plate number for Hinton’s car.

After police apprehended Hinton earlier this month following a brief car chase, a department detective said Hinton matched the description of the 2016 suspect. Once in custody, Hinton allegedly freely admitted having previously stolen from the center.

The center’s council member, who allowed Hinton to pray last June, picked him out of a photo array.

District Judge Michael Pochron arraigned Hinton Thursday night, setting bail at $10,000. He was already in Lehigh County Jail after failing to post $100,000.

His next court date in the case is a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 22. He is also scheduled for a June 29 preliminary hearing in the first case, and the two hearings may be combined. 

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