Allowed Appeals No. 80-3-631, from the Order of the Superior Court at Nos. 204, 205, 206, 982, 983 and 984 October Term, 1979, Affirming in Part and in Reversing in Part the Suppression Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Criminal, at Nos. 78-10,550; 78-10,543; 551; 78-10,544; 78-10,548; 78-10,549; 78-10,545; 78-10,546; and 78-10,547; Sydney J. Hoffman, Judge.
Robert F. Banks, First Asst. Dist. Atty., Kenneth D. Brown, Dist. Atty., for appellant.
John M. Humphrey, Williamsport, for appellees.
Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. Larsen, J., dissents in the result without an opinion. McDermott, J., files a dissenting opinion.
McDERMOTT, Justice, dissenting.
On the afternoon of July 28, 1978, the shopkeepers of Williamsport, PA, were marked for pillage by a band of shoplifters. From the goods found in their car, the thieves were expert and efficient. They were caught flat out and now their catching is the issue before us. I regret that the majority is satisfied to issue a per curiam order affirming the Superior Court, 274 Pa. Super. 571, 418 A.2d 554, without defining their reasons in an area of law, dangling in the winds of change. Changes, one hopes, that will relieve us of the woeful need to discharge defendants so obviously guilty, that they defile our ostensible search for truth. The facts of this case are neither strange nor startling. Indeed, they comport with the solid expectation of thieves, that they may steal at will, because neither the obvious or the certain counts against an "unreasonable" search.
I adopt the facts as distilled by the Superior Court.
At about 2:15 p.m. on July 28, 1978, Mary Dauberman, radio dispatcher for the Williamsport Police Department, received a phone call from an employee of Jones Specialty Shop, a clothing store located in the business district of Williamsport.*fn1 The caller stated that another employee had just noticed that an expensive suede coat was missing and that she suspected that the coat had been taken by three black women in the store minutes before. She suspected the black women because only a few other customers, all well known to the sales personnel, had been in the store. She gave a detailed description of the three women. ...