Car keys connect suspect to stolen vehicle in Harrison Township

Joshua Badstibner


Image Courtesy ACJ

Harrison Township, Pa. – Police in Harrison Township received a report of a stolen vehicle on March 3rd, 2019 after the victim woke up to find her 2007 Ford Taurus missing from her driveway. The victim told police that nobody had permission to drive the vehicle.

According to the police criminal complaint: On June 9, 2019, Harrison Township Law Enforcement Officers Chris Cottone and Sergeant Brian Turack responded to the Natrona Heights Food Mart money access for a report that a stolen vehicle was witnessed in the parking lot. Both officers observed a male, later identified as Joshua Badstibner on store surveillance with another unidentified light skin black male.

Auto Theft Suspect Identity: Joshua Badstibner, age 22 of McKeesport, PA.

Badstibner had his hair pulled back into a bun and a full beard mustache was observed. Video surveillance showed the suspect wearing a backpack, a black T-shirt with a red logo and Gray colored pants. Harrison police say the vehicle left the scene prior to their arrival but was spotted in Tarentum Borough. A Tarentum officer attempted to get behind the vehicle but the operator engaged in several evasive maneuvers consistent with somebody who is concealed or hiding criminal activity.

Police say the vehicle was not seen again on this date. A check of security cameras in and around the area identified the stolen vehicle being operated at that time, and was noted that the individual who reported the sighting at the Money Mart took a photo of the vehicle. That vehicle was backed into a parking spot against a donation bin, apparently in an attempt to conceal the license plate.

Additionally, the hood and fender were covered in what appeared to be bird feces or droppings from berries on trees. Based on previous prior arrests for motor vehicle theft and theft by unlawful taking, police are aware that stolen items are often concealed in a discreet location for period of time to allow a “cool down” period in an attempt for the items to come off the police radar.

On June 10th, 2019, Harrison Police Officer Hanzlik and Sgt. Turack were once again dispatched to the Food Mart for a sighting of the stolen vehicle. A thorough search of the area, including the streets of Natrona ended with positive results locating the vehicle in a parking lot at the rear of the PNA at 16 Linden Street. Harrison Police later developed a “person of interest” and were able to accurately identify a suspect. Harrison Police had the vehicle towed from the parking lot to a secure location.

A short time later, Officer Cottone and Sgt. Turack conducted a traffic stop on a white Chevrolet Suburban owned by a resident in Natrona. Inside the vehicle was Joshua Badstibner, who was observed reaching around the area he was sitting. Suspect Badstibner was removed from the vehicle and patted down for officer safety. Police said the entire driver’s compartment smelled of burnt marijuana. Police advised Badstibner they knew what was going on the past few days and that they found the Ford Taurus. Badstibner initially uttered he never drove a Ford Taurus and didn’t know what police were talking about. Police told the suspect they were going to find the keys, and without questioning, Badstibner told police, “yeah I drove that car yesterday to the Food Mart”!

Harrison Police spoke to the operator of the Suburban who gave police permission to search her residence for the car keys. A signed consent to search on the residence was obtained. Harrison Police recovered a set of keys and book bag observed on video surveillance from June 9th, 2019. The car keys recovered fit the victim’s vehicle.

Badstibner confessed to police and remarked that he was stranded and had no way to get around and he was “vehicle shopping” (checking door handles and looking for cars with keys inside). Badstibner has a history of auto theft.

Badstibner Charges: F3 THEFT BY UNLAWFUL TAKING 03/03/2019 and F3 RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY.

A Preliminary Hearing is scheduled on 06/19/2019 @ 1:00 pm before the Honorable Magisterial District Judge Carolyn S. Bengel. Badstibner was unable to post bail and is as currently lodged in the Allegheny County Jail.

Solving this case was the result of diligent police work by Harrison Township Police Sgt. Brian Turack, Officer Chris Cottone, additional Harrison Township Police Officers and Detectives, The Pennsylvania State Police and Tarentum Police.

Residents are reminded to remove valuables from their vehicles and lock your car doors.