A Central Berks Regional police officer and two state troopers happened to be in the right place at the right time to arrest an alleged burglar at gunpoint at a gas station along Route 662 in Oley Township.
Officer John Verno was doing a report in his patrol vehicle in the lot of another business, near the east roundabout in the 1100 block of Memorial Highway, about 1:40 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, when the exterior alarm sounded at the Gulf Station about 500 yards away, police said.
Verno drove to the gas station to see if any windows were broken then pulled at an angle to the left side of the building, radioing the Berks County dispatch center to report the alarm. That's when he saw a state police vehicle traveling by on Memorial Highway, which is Route 662.
The two troopers in the passing vehicle also heard the alarm and pulled into the gas station lot, on the opposite side as Verno’s vehicle.
Central Berks, which was formed by Mount Penn and Lower Alsace Township, provides full-time coverage to Oley Township on a contract basis. The troopers were not identified.
While that Gulf station previously had been burglarized, one of several gas stations burglarized in Berks County recently, it was merely by chance that Verno and two troopers converged almost simultaneously, said Central Berks Chief Ray Serafin.
"State police just happened to be driving by," he said.
And, it wasn’t a false alarm.
According to investigators:
Verno approached from one side of the entrance while the two troopers approached from the other.
It was dark inside the building, with the entrance illuminated only by the overleaf lights at the fuel pumps.
Verno noticed the door was slightly open and alerted troopers. He entered first, weapon drawn, and saw a man dressed all in black, including a hoodie, about 6 feet away, holding a long object in his right hand.
At gunpoint, Verno repeatedly ordered the suspect to get on the ground. The troopers drew their firearms and also ordered him to the ground.
The suspect, later identified as Steven Savini, 20, Birdsboro, ran toward the bathroom in the corner of the store, but there was no way out of the building. He eventually dropped several items before dropping to the ground.
Among the items he dropped and were recovered by police were a crow bar equipped with a sling and a black backpack that contained tie-off and pliers.
Officers discovered that a Pennsylvania Skills Machine was pried open and a Pennsylvania lottery machine was hanging off the counter and damaged.
Police found a dirt bike on the American Legion property about 1,000 feet from the gas station. They impounded the bike on the belief that Savini used it to travel to the area of the break-in.
Savini of the 400 block of East First Street was committed to Berks County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bail after arraignment before District Judge Michael G. Hartman in Reading Central Court on charges of burglary, criminal trespass and criminal mischief.