MEDIA -- A 19-year-old man and his 39-year-old bride are behind bars, charged with operating a juvenile-theft ring that targeted unlocked vehicles in the Philadelphia suburbs.Pottstown residents Thomas A. Gallagher Jr., 19, and Jennifer Hails, 39 -- who were married Jan. 4 -- allegedly recruited four students from Paxon Hollow Middle School in Newtown to steal valuables and at least three weapons from unlocked cars. "Gallagher delivered the weapons to the juveniles as a reward for their participation in the scheme," said Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green at a press conference on Thursday.Police from believe the newlyweds and their adolescent minions committed more than 100 thefts from unlocked cars and garages in Delaware, Chester, Bucks, Mongtomery and Philadelphia counties."It was a crime of opportunity," said Green, stressing that nearly all of the thefts occurred from unlocked vehicles or garages. Gallagher and Hails took the juveniles, ages 13 to 17, to residential neighborhoods where the young thieves would find unlocked cars and garages and steal anything of value, according to Green.So far, law enforcement authorities estimate the group struck more than 100 times, stealing Ipods, computers, Coach handbags, credit cards and other valuables.Hails allegedly used stolen credit cards at a number of stores in Bucks and Montgomery counties. In a 12-hour period in December, she attempted to use one victim's stolen credit card seven times and tried ring up $1,316.83 in charges at several stores, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The theft ring began to unravel in December after Paxon Hollow Middle School Assistant Principal John Beltrante noticed a student trying to fence expensive items, including iPods, and called police.When police executed a search warrant at the Barren Road home of the 14-year-old boy, they found a stolen revolver, according to the affidavit. The juvenile allegedly told investigators that Gallagher, or "T.J.," had given him the gun. Last week, police met with Gallagher, who allegedly confessed to stealing the handgun from a car in Upper Uwchlan Township. Gallagher told investigators he gave the handgun to the juvenile because the boy "had asked him for it," the affidavit states.Green stressed that at no time were the stolen weapons inside of the Paxon Hollow Middle School.Law enforcement authorities believe there are more victims -- and perhaps additional suspects."There may be other individuals who were working with them," Green said.The district attorney added that failing to lock vehicles, garages, homes is an invitation for trouble. He noted that it often takes years for victims of identity theft to restore their credit."Maintaining basic security is critical," Green said.Gallagher, who pleaded guilty to felony burglary in connection with a similar string of thefts in 2006, is in Delaware County prison in lieu of $200,000 cash bail. He is charged with former convict not to own a firearm, carrying a firearm without a license, theft, receiving stolen property, possession of a firearm by a minor and corruption of minors.Hails is being held in Bucks County prison on $10,000 bail. She is charged with access device fraud, identity theft, receiving stolen property and related offenses. The four juveniles, all from Newtown, Delaware County, were not named. Officials declined to comment about their legal status.
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