Police: Mom Drove Teens to Vehicle Break-ins

Christine Petchonka, of Nazareth, is accused of driving two juveniles -- one being her son -- and Ian Shoemaker, 29, to Lehigh Valley neighborhoods so they could steal from unlocked vehicles.


Instead of offering her son and his friend a ride to, say, a movie theater, Christine Petchonka is accused of being the wheelman as the 16-year-olds broke into unlocked vehicles across the Lehigh Valley.

Petchonka, 46, of the 100 block of S. Main Street, Nazareth, was arraigned Wednesday morning in front of . She was briefly committed to Northampton County Prison before posting 10 percent of $5,000 bail, according to court records. 

According to a police criminal complaint filed by Officer Daniel Troxell, Petchonka admitted to driving the two boys and Ian Shoemaker, 29, so they could “steal from cars in a certain area on a random night.”

Petchonka allegedly stashed a variety of electronic devices, like GPS systems, cameras and cell phones, at in . Shoemaker, the complaint says, gave the stolen goods to Petchonka for storing purposes.

In one of several purses in the storage unit, according to the complaint, Troxell found six GPS systems, multiple cell phones and other electronics.

Petchonka also admitted to police that items were sometimes pawned at locations in Easton and Allentown. Because not all of the items can be accounted for, Nazareth Police Chief Thomas Trachta estimates $20,000 in goods were stolen over several months. 

So far, Trachta added, five people got back their stolen items.

Petchonka has been charged with recklessly endangering another person, criminal conspiracy – theft from a motor vehicle, loitering or prowling at nighttime and theft from a motor vehicle.

Petchonka’s son and the other 16-year-old male were committed to the Northampton County Juvenile Detention Center, according to Trachta.

Shoemaker has yet to be arraigned, according to court records. However, he is facing a whopping 410 counts, which include the following felony counts:

  • Theft by unlawful taking
  • Criminal conspiracy – theft by unlawful taking
  • Criminal solicitation – theft by unlawful taking
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Criminal conspiracy – receiving stolen property
  • Criminal solicitation – receiving stolen property

He is also facing the following misdemeanor counts:

  • Theft from a motor vehicle
  • Criminal conspiracy – theft from a motor vehicle
  • Criminal solicitation – theft from a motor vehicle
  • Loitering and prowling at nighttime


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