Serial burglar gets up to 10 years in Pittston looting spree

By Joe Dolinsky - | February 26th, 2016 4:01 pm

WILKES-BARRE — A serial burglar was sentenced to up to 10 years in state prison on charges he looted a number of Pittston homes while high on spice.

Jose Israel Alvarado, 26, with a last known address of 173 W. Market St., Scranton, entered a guilty plea Thursday in Luzerne County Court on two felony counts of burglary and was immediately sentenced to four to 10 years in state prison consecutive to a lengthy sentence received in Lackawanna County Court.

Court records show Alvarado received a sentence of 16 to 32 years after he pleaded guilty in December to at least a half dozen other burglaries in the Scranton area.

According to a police affidavit, officers from the Pittston City Police Department interviewed Alvarado at the Lackawanna County Prison on Sept. 11, 2014, about a string of burglaries in the Greater Pittston area in July and August of that year.

Alvarado allegedly admitted he had been “extremely high on spice” during that time period and committed burglaries every night, which he described to officers.

The burglaries Alvarado admitted to include:

• Police said Alvarado on July 13, 2014, entered 173 Panama St. through a rear kitchen window and stole cash and jewelry while an elderly woman was sleeping. He later told officers he saw the woman sleeping and “felt bad.”

• Alvarado admitted to stealing keys and titles from vehicles at Mesko Motors on North Main Street the next day, police said. He explained to police he planned to recruit friends from New Jersey to return to the shop and steal the cars, which he said would later be sold for parts, the affidavit says.

Alvarado told police he placed the stolen items inside a backpack which he dumped in a grassy area near Route 315. The backpack was later recovered by police.

• Alvarado acknowledged breaking into 23 Gidding St. on July 29, 2014, where he lifted cash and a laptop, the affidavit says. He told police he later tossed the laptop into a dumpster because he didn’t “have much luck selling laptops.”

• Police said Alvarado confessed to another break-in at 16 Howley Circle on July 31, 2014. The resident, Steven Malstrom, told police he was missing $10,000 in cash and a PlayStation 4.

Malstrom said Alvarado had attempted to reach out to him to apologize for the theft by offering cash and other items as restitution. Malstrom later agreed to a consensual telephone recording involving Malstrom’s wife and Alvarado in which Alvarado admitted to stealing the items.

Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. ordered Alvarado to pay $516,634 in restitution to the victims as well as obtain a GED while incarcerated.

By Joe Dolinsky

Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL