DERRY — When Ruben Pabon saw the thrift store’s name was Finders Keepers, he took it literally — stealing merchandise from the Crystal Avenue shop.
The 41-year-old Derry man said he did nothing wrong after enlisting the help of his 8-year-old son to steal a grill worth $400 on April 26. A few weeks earlier, he pilfered a Blu-ray disc player from the store.
But yesterday, Pabon pleaded guilty in 10th Circuit Court to charges of theft and contributing to the delinquency of a minor as part of an agreement with the prosecution. A third charge, endangering the welfare of a minor, was not prosecuted as part of the plea bargain.
Pabon, who faced up to two years in jail on the two charges, received a six-month suspended sentence from Judge John Coughlin. He was also fined $1,000, with $500 suspended for a year.
After the sentencing, Pabon declined to comment on why he decided to plead guilty, other than to say he just wanted the case to be over.
When shop owner Laura Barker noticed the large, boxed Grill Tech grill was no longer sitting on the back porch, she reviewed the store’s surveillance camera footage.
She was shocked at what she saw — the young boy helping to lug the grill away. It had been left outside overnight because it was too heavy for a single worker to move.
More than half of the store’s proceeds are donated to charities that help children and also military personnel serving overseas, Barker said.
“It was enough they were stealing items that were intended to help other people,” she said at the time. “But to see a child assisting was horrible. It was just like adding insult to injury.”
Barker gave the video to police and the media, hoping it would lead to an arrest.