Police: Duo stole tools from at least 18 job sites in York, Lancaster counties

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Two men are facing multiple charges in York and Lancaster counties for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars in tools from job sites and selling them.

Bernard Sanford Axe Jr., 37, of the 300 block of South Second Street in Columbia, and Quentin Lee Burgess, 21, of the 200 block of Jefferson Avenue in York City, are either charged or will be charged with multiple crimes including burglary, criminal trespass, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy, according to court records.

Neither man is in custody, and both are awaiting arraignment in their York County cases, filed by Detective Stephen Lebo of Northern York County Regional Police.

In the York area they hit a restaurant, a hotel and a PennDOT substation, according to charging documents.

Axe and Burgess punched a hole in the wall of the closed-for-renovations San Carlo's & The Hop, 333 Arsenal Road in Manchester Township, to get inside overnight Nov. 12, documents allege.

Bernard Sanford Axe Jr.

They stole about $6,500 worth of tools from the building, including impact drills and a nail gun, police said.

Between Nov. 20 and 23, Axe and Burgess got inside the state Department of Transportation's fenced-in substation at 2230 N. George St. in Manchester Township, then broke into two locked sheds and a trailer, charging documents allege.

They stole about $5,500 worth of PennDOT tools, including weed eaters, drills and a worm-drive saw, police allege.

Sometime between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, Axe and Burgess went to a property in the 1300 block of Toronita Street in Manchester Township — which is under construction — and broke into a large locked toolbox, charging documents state

They stole about $5,000 worth of tools from that job site, including sawzalls and an electric jackhammer, police allege.

Close call: About 5:40 p.m. Christmas Eve, Northern Regional Police were called back to the same site. A Days Inn employee called 911 after watching surveillance video and seeing two people actively breaking into the building that's under construction, police said.

Officers discovered cardboard had been removed from an open air vent, and muddy footprints led to it, police said.

Officers got inside through that vent and heard footsteps on the second floor, but the trespasser got away, documents state.

Police started looking closely at the pair after Northern Lancaster County Regional Police pulled over Axe on Jan. 4 for driving with an expired registration, police said. Axe and his brother were arrested on felony drug charges that day, records state.

Northern Lancaster County Regional Police said Axe had 28 outstanding warrants when he was pulled over.

Officers from that department could see various tools in the truck Axe was driving, police said.

The next day, Manor Township Police in Lancaster County executed a search warrant on that truck and confirmed that at least one tool in it — a concrete saw — had been reported stolen, documents state. The saw was reported stolen from a site in Springettsbury Township by Kinsley Construction, according to documents.

Storage unit searched: Manor Township Police then learned Axe had a storage unit in Mountville, charging documents allege.

On Jan. 7, police went to the storage unit after being alerted that Axe was there and loading things into a pickup truck, according to documents.

Axe "confessed to working with a Quentin Lee Burgess of York to steal tools from various construction sites and other locations and to sell the stolen items through social media platforms for profit," including Facebook Marketplace, Lebo wrote in charging documents.

The tools recovered from the unit came from about 18 different thefts and open investigations in Lancaster and York counties, documents allege.

State police in Lancaster determined Burgess left a fingerprint at a job site in East Drumore Township when tools were stolen from a locked utility truck on Sept. 2, documents allege.

State police also obtained text exchanges between Axe and Burgess in which they talk about stealing tools from construction sites, according to charging documents — including an exchange in which Burgess tells Axe he was at the Toronita Street site when police entered the building while he was inside.

"How the f— he ain't hear you or see you," Axe asks.

Burgess replies he doesn't know, "but I was hauling a—."

A trove of tools? Mount Joy Police in Lancaster County allege Axe and Burgess stole $15,000 worth of tools from that jurisdiction alone.

In the Manchester Township thefts cases, it's estimated the duo stole $17,000 worth of tools, charging documents allege.

Axe and Burgess have not yet been arraigned on their York County charges, court records state. It's unclear how many other departments here are investigating them.

Northern York County Regional Police Chief Dave Lash said his officers arrested Burgess in March 2020 for allegedly stealing tools then and selling them on Facebook, and that Axe figured into that investigation as well, although he wasn't charged.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.