No. 340 Philadelphia 1980, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Delaware County, No. 5675, 1979.
William H. Ryan, Assistant District Attorney, Drexel Hill, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Michael F.X. Coll, Media, for appellee.
Price,*fn* Watkins and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 310 Pa. Super. Page 367]
The Commonwealth appeals from an order suppressing evidence obtained pursuant to a warrantless search of appellee's automobile.*fn1
The following facts were adduced at the suppression hearing: At approximately 4:30 p.m. on November 11, 1979, Walter Schoch of North Broad Street in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, noticed an unfamiliar automobile parked near the residence of his neighbors, Richard and Gloria Pia, also of North Broad Street. The automobile was parked in the middle of a little-used, single lane, unpaved public road located perpendicular to North Broad Street and adjacent to the Pia residence. Schoch observed that the automobile was a tan colored Buick station wagon. He noted the absence of any persons in the automobile or in the vicinity of the house, but he heard a noise originating from the Pia home. Schoch continued to observe the house for fifteen minutes but saw no one. Believing the Pias were not at
[ 310 Pa. Super. Page 368]
home, Schoch decided to investigate. Because it was raining, he went to get his car from his garage. While backing it out of the garage, Schoch observed the station wagon proceeding southerly along North Broad Street. Schoch followed the station wagon and obtained a more detailed description of the automobile. Specifically, he noted its state of registration and license number, that it had a Citizen Band antenna and a trailer hitch, and that there were two male occupants.
At approximately 5:30 p.m., Officer Little of the Kennett Square Borough Police responded to a report of a burglary at the Pia residence. Officer Little, after obtaining the above details from Schoch, and after speaking with the Pias who informed him that their home had been burglarized, requested that the Chester County Police Radio broadcast a message asking any police department to stop the vehicle matching Schoch's description and obtain the identity of its occupants. Little also relayed that a large quantity of jewelry could be in the vehicle.
At approximately 6:00 p.m. Officer Wood received a message transmitted by the Delaware County police radio which advised that the occupants of the automobile matching the Schoch description, viz., a tan Buick station wagon, Pennsylvania registration 5U2996, with a trailer hitch, should be arrested for burglary. Officer Wood spotted the station wagon at 7:09 p.m. He stopped the vehicle, ordered the two occupants, one William Rosetto and appellee Francis Rutigliano, out of the automobile. Wood then placed them under arrest for the Pia burglary. Appellee was later arraigned on charges of receiving stolen property*fn2 and criminal conspiracy.*fn3
The station wagon was towed to the Springfield Township police station and was searched without a warrant by Officer Wood at approximately 7:45 p.m. that evening. While it was ...