By Peter H. Milliken
Boardman police and Mahoning County sheriff’s deputies say they hope a “career criminal” named Steven J. DiRenzo can remain locked up and prevented from committing further offenses after their joint investigation linked a trail of crimes extending from Canfield to Pulaski, Pa.
DiRenzo, 42, of Mathews Road, Boardman, is in the county jail after his arrest Tuesday on charges of receiving stolen property and tampering with evidence, for which he will make his initial appearance in Boardman Court at 5 p.m. today.
The investigation began when Boardman police were dispatched Tuesday morning to a Mathews Road laundromat concerning a report of an unattended Jeep Cherokee parked in a yard adjacent to the laundromat with its windows down.
The sheriff’s office had taken a report of that Jeep having been stolen a few hours earlier from a Canfield woman.
The recovery of the stolen vehicle led to police executing a search warrant for DiRenzo’s house next door, where they recovered a large quantity of jewelry, tools, radio equipment, narcotics and narcotics paraphernalia, and identification cards belonging to possible crime victims, according to Maj. Jeff Allen of the sheriff’s department.
While officers were investigating at DiRenzo’s residence, DiRenzo arrived home, driving a white Dodge Ram pickup missing a license plate, and Boardman police arrested him on charges of receiving stolen property, tampering with evidence, operating a vehicle impaired and driving under suspension.
Sheriff’s Detective Anthony Murphy later that day heard a radio news report of several early morning home invasions in the Pulaski, Pa., area, with a description of the suspect’s vehicle matching one DiRenzo drove.
In a news release on one of the burglaries, Pennsylvania State Police said a woman told them a man entered her residence on Pa. Route 551 in Edinburg, Pulaski Township, at 6:55 a.m. Tuesday, but he fled her home when she awakened and confronted him.
The victim contacted a neighbor, who came to her aid and saw a white extended-cab pickup with an Ohio rear license plate and no front plate parked in the victim’s driveway, with a female getaway driver waiting for the burglar.
The neighbor confronted the man and woman and damaged the truck’s passenger side-view mirror before the truck fled the scene.
“We’ve dealt with him for 15 to 20 years. It seems like every several months, we end up arresting him for auto thefts or house burglaries or receiving stolen property or drug charges,” said Boardman Police Chief Jack Nichols.
“He’s a career criminal,” the chief said. “He’s been on this crime spree now that seems to have led from Canfield all the way into western Pennsylvania. It’s time that we take him off the street and put him out of commission for a while.
“We would like him out of our hair, locked up, so he can’t be breaking into people’s houses and stealing their cars,” Nichols said in a Wednesday news conference. “A lot of this appears to be fueled by narcotics.”
“I would hope that he is off our hands for the rest of our careers,” said Allen. “I would like to see the maximum sentence given.”
“Just by simply processing the stolen vehicle and pulling video evidence from the laundromat next door, they potentially are going to be able to solve many, many break-ins and crimes, now leading out of the state, even into Pennsylvania,” Sheriff Jerry Greene said of his deputies and Boardman police.
If charges are filed against DiRenzo in the Pennsylvania home invasions, “perhaps that will be the thing that tends to keep him in prison a little bit longer” because those charges would be more serious than the offenses for which he is now jailed, Nichols said.
“We’re still looking to see if there was anyone else involved” in the crimes under investigation besides DiRenzo, said Boardman Police Detective Glenn Patton. Based on his previous encounters with DiRenzo, Patton described DiRenzo as a heroin and crack cocaine user.