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Allentown man accused of breaking into police parking lot, stealing key to undercover cop car

Allentown Police Department, Allentown City Hall, Allentown Arts Park, Lehigh County Jail, prison, Allentown Center City, Lehigh valley
Donna S. Fisher
For LehighValleyNews.com
An Allentown man is accused of trying to steal a car June 29 from the Allentown Police Department's secure parking lot near its headquarters.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — An Allentown man is facing felony charges after police allege he tried to steal a police officer’s off-duty vehicle from a secure lot last month.

Leonel Bonilla-Arita, 42, was charged with criminal trespass and theft by unlawful taking, as well as misdemeanor counts of theft from a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property, according to court documents.

Allentown police allege Bonilla-Arita on June 29 broke into the bottom floor of the parking deck outside City Hall and the police department.

Officers arrested Bonilla-Arita and found a key card and a device programmed to open the police department’s secure parking lot and a key fob for an unmarked cop car.
Charging documents

That’s where police officers park their personal vehicles.

On surveillance footage, he can be seen “walking up and checking several door handles” before entering and starting an officer’s Jeep Grand Cherokee, police allege in charging documents filed Sunday.

Those documents don’t explicitly state how Bonilla-Arita started the officer’s vehicle.

Bonilla-Arita tried to drive the Jeep out of the police garage about 20 minutes after starting it, but he was blocked because he did not have a keycard to open the gate to exit, according to court documents.

Bonilla-Arita then parked the officer’s Jeep in the garage and returned to his car on College Street about 45 minutes after he parked there, police allege.

Stopped nearby the next day

Allentown police launched their investigation after the officer found her car in a different spot than where she parked it.

Police identified Bonilla-Arita through footage from surveillance cameras and dashboard cameras, according to charging documents.

He also is accused of taking a key fob and two garage-door openers from the Jeep.

An officer stopped Bonilla-Arita’s car the next evening in the 400 block of West Court Street — about a block from the police department’s parking garage, court documents state.

Officers arrested Bonilla-Arita and found a key card and a device programmed to open the police department’s secure parking lot in the garage at Fourth and Hamilton streets, according to charging documents.

Bonilla-Arita also had a key fob for an unmarked cop car, police allege.