Footprints in the snow led to the arrests of four people in two strings of car break-ins overnight.





Police were called around 1:30 a.m. Dec. 16 to the 300 block of Winter Avenue on the North Hill, where a resident reported someone had broken into a car.





Police saw footprints in the snow and followed them, noting they went up to every car parked along Winter Avenue and every vehicle parked on Neshannock Boulevard. The footprints then led to Boyles Avenue.





An officer saw one of the alleged offenders, 24-year-old Brandon Lee Smith of Beaver Falls, and chased him on foot, catching him in the 300 block of Wallace Avenue.





Police said they searched him and found a pill bottle in his pocket containing various suspected narcotic pills.





Another officer chased a second suspect, identified as 29-year-old Mark Mason of Pulaski, whom he saw run inside the back door of 327 Wallace Ave.





Police learned later Mason has a family member who lives there.





The resident gave police permission to search the house and they found Mason hiding in the attic. He allegedly told police that he and Smith had been breaking into cars and he was the lookout person.





Police also learned Mason was an escapee from a halfway house in Mercer County and Smith was wanted on a state parole warrant.





They said the footprints found in the snow matched those of Smith's and Mason's shoes.





Both are charged with criminal attempt at theft from a motor vehicle, criminal conspiracy at theft from a motor vehicle and loitering and prowling at night.





Smith also is charged with possession of a controlled substance.





They were arraigned by District Judge Melissa Amodie and lodged in the Lawrence County jail in lieu of $5,000 bond each.





Police said about a half-hour after those arrests, they received a call from residents on the city's East Side that someone was breaking into cars.





They searched the area and found two male juveniles, a 17-year-old from New Castle and a 16-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, who allegedly were involved in the break-ins.





The two were found hiding in homes in the area, police said, and juvenile petitions are to be filed against them.



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