Lower Providence Police report that the discovery of an attempted theft of approximately $300 worth of copper piping from the Collegeville Inn, resulted in a multi-municipal police car chase, after which, one of the suspects attempted to elude authorities by swimming across the Schuylkill River.
The incident was reported on December 28, when Lower Providence Police officer Jeremy Bonner was on routine patrol at approximately 9:32 a.m. The officer observed a length of rope hanging between the rear door of the Collegeville Inn, located at 4000 Ridge Pike in the Collegeville section of the township.
Upon investigating, the officer found the rope opened the door when pulled. Inside the doorway, a large amount of copper piping was placed. According to the report, the officer determined that someone may have entered the building and stripped the copper piping with the intention of returning at a later time to retrieve it.
After other Lower Providence Police officers arrived on the site, Bonner left and returned in an unmarked police vehicle to observe.
At approximately 10:50 a.m., Bonner reported a maroon-colored Ford Expedition stop directly in front of the door, where two men got out and proceeded to load the vehicle with the copper piping.
The two men were later identified as Kenneth Holmes, 43, of the 3800 block of Germantown Pike in Collegeville and Gerald Salvo, 42, of the 1200 block of Swede St. in Norristown.
The officer drew his service weapon after the two men saw his approach. The men failed to adhere to verbal commands given by the officer, instead they were reported to have entered the Ford Expedition and exit the parking lot. Bonner then reported the direction in which the vehicle fled.
Later police investigation found that the vehicle was traced to Holmes, who was also the driver.
According to a supplemental report, Lower Providence Police Sgt. William Hopkins picked up the car pursuit, following the Expedition into Upper Providence Township, and soon involved officers from that township’s police department. The report states that while the vehicle did not exceed 50-miles-an-hour at this point, it did enter oncoming traffic lanes, disregarded red traffic signals and went around stopped traffic.
At approximately 11 a.m., along the 700 block of Collegeville Road, the vehicle slowed, and Salvo was reported to have disembarked. After a brief foot pursuit, police apprehended Salvo.
The Expedition was then reported to have continued onto Route 422, reaching speeds in excess of 75-miles-an-hour. Continuing onto N. Gulph Road, the vehicle then entered Valley Forge National Historic Park, at which time Upper Merion Township Police and Valley Forge Park Rangers became involved in the chase.
Valley Forge Park Rangers set up a blockade near the Visitor’s Center, but the vehicle exited the park through grass.
The pursuit ended near Supplee Mansion, located near 1700 S. Trooper Road, where the driver stopped at the dead end at Betzwood Bridge. The report states that the driver exited the vehicle and fled on foot with officers still in pursuit. Holmes was then reported to have entered the Schuylkill River in an attempt to swim across. Officers persuaded him to turn around, and had him in custody at approximately 11:18 a.m.
According to Lower Providence Police, Holmes made a written statement to police of his involvement with the alleged copper pipe theft and pursuit. He admitted to police that he enlisted the help of Salvo that day. Holmes told police that he needed money and had not worked in some time. He further told police that he was an opiate addict.
Both men were transported to Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Respectively, Holmes’ and Salvo’s bail was set at $75,000. A preliminary hearing date has been set for both men Jan. 7.
According to court documents, both Holmes’ and Salvo were charged with burglary, receiving stolen property, fleeing or attempting to elude officer, and other crimes, as well as individual charges.