A woman from Hellertown is facing charges for allegedly participating in what Palmer Township Police have described as an overnight “crime spree” earlier this week.
Palmer police identified 37-year-old Martha Helen Toukolehto and the man with whom she is accused of committing numerous attempted break-ins and other crimes as both being Bethlehem residents, but Northampton County court records as well as online public records list a Hellertown borough address for Toukolehto.
According to police, the alleged crime spree committed by Toukolehto and 42-year-old Eugene A. Ruiz began with an attempted break-in at the Weis Market at 3011 William Penn Highway.
Officers responded to a burglar alarm at the store around 3:45 a.m. Monday, police said, and found a a white Cadillac SUV registered to Toukolehto parked near the supermarket’s gas pumps.
In a post about the case on Crimewatch, Palmer Police said they “identified Toukolehto as she was viewed on the Weis Markets store surveillance with an object in her hands trying to pry open the glass entry doors.”
The man identified as Ruiz was seen on the surveillance footage using “a green patio umbrella offered for sale outside the front of the store as a battering ram, smashing it into the glass entry doors attempting to gain entry,” police said.
Palmer Police said they alerted surrounding police departments to the incident at Weis and provided them with descriptions of the pair.
At 5:20 a.m. Monday, police said officers were called to a home near the supermarket for a report of a man banging on the front door with a red fire extinguisher.
Police said responding officers observed Ruiz allegedly striking the door with the extinguisher and took him into custody.
The resident of the home “did not know Ruiz or why he was there,” police said, adding that a doorbell camera at the residence allegedly “captured Ruiz striking the door.”
After arresting Ruiz, police said they continued patrolling the immediate area, searching for Toukolehto.
It was during this time that officers discovered several vehicles that had been broken into, police said, and “a short time later an employee at Brown-Daub Kia, 3600 William Penn Highway, reported the lot’s plow truck was missing from its usual parking spot in the lot.”
Police said surveillance video recorded by the dealership “showed a female matching Toukolehto’s description enter their lot on foot around 5:30 a.m.” and that around 5:41 a.m. she was seen entering the plow truck–a green Ford F-250–and driving away in it.
According to police, the stolen pickup was soon found abandoned at the entrance of Brown-Daub Chrysler Jeep, 3903 Hecktown Road in Lower Nazareth Township.
Colonial Regional Police then began searching the area for Toukolehto, police said, before receiving a report of a female trespasser who matched her description in the backyard of a home.
Identified as Toukolehto, Colonial Regional Police took the woman into custody approximately 300 yards from where the stolen pickup was found, Palmer Police said.
Palmer Police said they then took custody of Toukolehto from Colonial Regional Police.
According to the docket filed in Toukolehto’s case in Northampton County District Court 03-2-09, she is charged with two Felony 3 counts of theft, one Felony 3 count of receiving stolen property, one Felony 2 count of burglary, one Felony 2 count of criminal conspiracy engaging in burglary and one Misdemeanor 1 count of possessing an instrument of crime with intent.
Ruiz is charged with one Felony 2 count of burglary, one Felony 2 count of criminal conspiracy engaging in burglary, one Felony 2 count of criminal attempt, two Misdemeanor 1 counts of possessing an instrument of crime with intent, one Misdemeanor 2 count of resisting arrest and one Misdemeanor 2 count of criminal mischief, according to the docket filed in his case.
Following their preliminary arraignments, both Ruiz and Toukolehto were committed to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $150,000 straight bail each, according to police and court records.
As of Wednesday, neither had posted bail.
Ruiz’s preliminary hearing is scheduled to be held Tuesday, July 11 at 2 p.m. before District Judge Alicia Zito. Toukolehto’s is scheduled to be held in Zito’s court on July 11 at 2:30 p.m., according to court records.
The dockets did not list an attorney for either defendant as of Wednesday.
Note: All individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This story was compiled using information from the Palmer Township Police Department and Northampton County court records.