The suspect was caught when he tried to cash a stolen check, police say.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Workers at the Mahoning County annex didn't find it odd that a man in a blue shorts outfit wanted to check for lead in the walls with his bare hands.
Here's how Patrolman Dan Mikus describes what led up to the arrest of Sylvanus A. Wade, 28, of Cohasset Drive:
Wade walked into the annex at 2801 Market St. on Thursday and headed for the veterans services commission, where an employee stopped him at the door. Wade said he was there to check for lead in the walls, walked over toward a desk and placed his hands on the wall.
The county worker failed to question Wade's lead-detection method and didn't stop him from moving into restricted areas. In fact, she aided Wade when another employee questioned his presence in the offices.
Wade eventually made his way into an office where he found a woman working at her desk. He told her he was checking for lead in the plaster and moved behind her desk.
The woman scooted her chair forward to allow him access and moved her purse from the floor to the top of a file cabinet next to him. She was concerned that he would step on it.
The woman didn't see Wade grab the purse before he left the office.
When she realized the purse was missing, a search was on. It turned up in the men's restroom, minus $13, a checkbook and Discover card.
The woman was sure of the cash -- a $5 bill and eight $1 bills -- because she'd checked earlier to see if she had enough for lunch.
The county worker called National City Bank on Market Street to report her checks stolen. The bank flagged the account.
Not long after, Wade walked into the bank and presented one of the stolen checks, made out to himself in red ink, for $250, Mikus said. A notation on the check said the payment was for "lawn care."
The bank manager called police.
The county workers who had seen Wade went to the bank and identified him as the man who claimed to be a lead tester.
Once Wade was placed under arrest, the contents of his pockets yielded the stolen Discover card, $13 and a red ink pen. The cash was a $5 bill and eight $1 bills, Mikus said.
Wade spent the night in county jail, pending arraignment today in municipal court. His arrest report shows charges of burglary, receiving stolen property, attempting to pass a bad check and forgery.
Mikus also served Wade with old warrants that charge him with violating a protection order and resisting arrest.
Franklin County issued a hold on Wade, based on two warrants issued there that charge him with corruption of a minor.