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L. Saucon Man Stole $2,200 from Slate Belt Rita's in 2010, Police Say

According to Plainfield Township police, Sami M. Mirza, 24, of Lower Saucon Township, broke into a Rita's Water Ice store in May 2010 and stole $2,200 from a safe and two registers. Mirza has been linked to the crime through DNA, police say.

By Jack Tobias

With the help of a prison informant and DNA evidence, police have made an arrest in a cold case—a May 2010 burglary that netted $2,200 from a Rita's Water Ice at a major Slate Belt intersection.

Court records say Sami M. Mirza, 24, of 1530 Bette Lane, Lower Saucon Township, broke a sliding front window to gain entry to the Rita's in Plainfield Township sometime between 9:35 p.m. May 16 and 7:15 a.m. May 17. Police found splattered blood on the exterior and interior of the store and on a store safe found near a roadway.

Authorities could not match DNA from the blood with anyone, and so the case remained cold for almost three years until April of this year, when Plainfield police talked to a confidential informant at Northampton County Prison.

The informant, according to the records, said he was in jail with Mirza earlier in the year and that Mirza confessed to the Rita's burglary. Police were contacted by the informant's parents, who requested that police meet with their child.

Online court records show Mirza was in jail in connection with a 2011 burglary in the city of Bethlehem.

In the Rita's case, Mirza was charged Wednesday with burglary, criminal trespass and receiving stolen property. He was arraigned by on-duty District Judge Joseph Barner of Lower Nazareth Township and committed to county prison in lieu of $25,000 bail.

A criminal complaint filed by Plainfield Officer Christopher Ryan also says:

—James Tavianini, owner of the Rita's store, arrived at 7:15 a.m. May 17, 2010, saw that the store had been burglarized and called police. The store is on Route 512 near the Wind Gap borough line. Route 33 and Sullivan Trail intersect Route 512 in the area of the store.

—Police found the blood-splattered safe near Route 512, but Tavianini said a second safe containing about $2,000 had been stolen. Another $200 was taken from two cash registers. Police also found a black and gray-striped knit hat on the floor of the store.

—Results from an analysis of evidence finally came back on Aug. 29, 2010—but no DNA match was obtained at that time.

—The break in the case came on April 10 of this year, when Ryan spoke to Mirza's prison mate. Online court records show that Mirza was paroled March 25. The complaint says the informant told Ryan he was in jail with Mirza this year between Feb. 25 and March 27.

—A DNA swab for Mirza was taken Oct. 2. The complaint does not explain the almost six-month gap between the talk with the prison informant and the DNA swab. But the DNA results came back Nov. 25, and this time there was a match with Mirza.

Patch file photo

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