Police: Fake fire inspector steals from Philly landmarks
CENTER CITY - January 13, 2013 (WPVI) -- With fake credentials and a fake uniform, police say the suspect had it all when he walked in and stole thousands worth of electronics from several Philadelphia landmarks.
It's a jaw dropping and eye opening breach of security that has police trying to figure out exactly how 26-year-old Christopher Keiter was able to do it.
Investigators say last week the Center City man pretended to be a Philadelphia fire inspector. Using his real name on the fake credentials, he allegedly walked into several high profile locations and stole thousands of dollars worth of items.
Detectives say Keiter walked into the Academy of Music wearing a city fire department shirt and a handheld radio demanding to inspect the fire extinguishers.
Security lost sight of him and they believe he got away with electronics.
Police say Keiter pulled the same scam at the Art Institute of Philadelphia at 16th and Chestnut streets. This time he told employees they needed to evacuate while he sprayed some fumes.
When they returned, two laptops were missing.
However one of the most dangerous breaches happened on federal property at Independence Mall.
Police accuse Keiter of walking into the Visitor Center and swiping a $2,500 US Park Ranger radio.
"I think we all need to be a little bit more aware this day and age because these things are just so easy to do," said Ken Sehres.
Action News has learned that Keiter has a long rap sheet in Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery counties.
He's been arrested several times in the past few years for theft and impersonating a public servant.
Investigators say they searched his apartment at Parker Hotel on South 13th Street and found many of the stolen items.
Keiter's landlord says he moved in about three weeks ago and always answered his phone as a Philadelphia fire official.
"We didn't think he was doing anything illegal or otherwise we would have reported it but we just thought he was just mentally challenged or something you know," said Mihir Wankawala.
Police say the Independence Visitor Center has surveillance video of Keiter looking around the building.
Meanwhile residents and visitors couldn't believe the charges.
"It's crazy and it shows the measures people take to do things these days," said Theresa Santiago.
"I think we all need to be a little bit more aware this day and age because these things are just so easy to do. You can fake all types of things on the computer," said Ken Sehres.
Police are still trying to figure out if there were any other related incidents.
philadelphia, theft, center city, local/state
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