Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Elyria 64°

Cops and Courts

Elyria man accuses brother of coin theft


ELYRIA – A 57-year-old man was arrested and charged with burglary and possessing criminal tools after his older brother caught him breaking into his home on Sunday.

Philip Benko, 67, called police to his Middle Avenue home at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday and told officers that his younger brother, James Benko, 57, had just left in a burgundy van with a hole in the windshield where Philip Benko had swung a golf club in an attempt to stop James Benko from driving away.

The older brother told police that on Friday he noticed some coins missing from his collection. Philip Benko doesn’t normally stay at the home where the coins were taken from but he told police that he knew it was his brother taking them so he slept there Saturday in an attempt to catch James Benko in the act.

Philip Benko said around 5:25 a.m. Sunday, he heard James Benko talking outside his home and then heard a drill removing screws from a piece of plywood, which had been installed by Philip Benko on a window that previously had been used to break into the house, according to a police report.

Philip Benko also installed a motion detector outside the window. Seconds after the motion detector alarm went off, Philip Benko confronted James Benko in the home, the report said.

The older brother chased the younger brother down the stairs, continually striking him in the back with a golf club until the James Benko dove out the window he came in through, the report said.

By the time police arrived, James Benko was gone. Police said they found at the scene a cordless drill, a hammer, screwdriver, drill bit, spare battery for the drill and an orange 5-gallon bucket. The piece of plywood that had been covering the window was on the ground.

Police issued a warrant to arrest James Benko and he was arrested Sunday on Oberlin Road.

Philip Benko told police he is an avid collector of coins and discovered several pages of coins were taken from a binder Friday. He believes 20 to 60 coins were taken valued at about $5 each, the report said.

Philip Benko told police that the brothers used to live together but now the younger brother is a heroin addict living with a prostitute in the Akron area and steals his coins to buy drugs, the report said.

Philip Benko called Akron Coin the day he noticed the coins were missing and an employee confirmed that James Benko had come in to trade in some coins.

Police also contacted Akron Coin and an employee said he was holding the coins for Philip Benko after James Benko attempted to trade them.

Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or jweinberger@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jodi_Weinberger.

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