Alleged Cowans Gap home burglar arrested following police foot chase

02 January 2024- A man who allegedly thought a home near Cowans Gap State Park was vacant for the season is now behind bars on numerous burglary and theft charges. John West Martin was charged with felony burglary, six felony counts of theft, felony evading arrest by foot, felony criminal trespassing, and six counts of felony receiving stolen property. Martin is currently free on an unsecured bail after being arraigned just before the new year, receiving an unsecured bail of $100,000.

Troopers from PSP McConnellsburg were called on December 29th, 2023, to assist in a burglary investigation on Aughwick Road, Peters Township, Franklin County. Troopers arrived on scene and soon after took a suspect into custody before PSP Chambersburg Troopers arrived to investigate.

When Chambersburg Troopers arrived, they allegedly found two backpacks and a jewelry box laying in the wooded area near the home in question, as well as four hunting rifles and several deer hides.

The homeowner was interviewed on scene, allegedly telling officers that he came home around 9am and went into the basement. After entering, he reportedly heard footsteps upstairs and immediately exited to retrieve a handgun from his vehicle and to call 911.

When McConnellsburg Troopers arrived just around 9:40a, the alleged burglar ran into the woods but was later caught by the Trooper. After being taken into custody, that man, now found to be John Martin, was found to have a loaded handgun in his possession as well as a flashlight, a pair of black gloves, a set of lock picks, and other miscellaneous items. Martin was taken into custody by officers without any incident.

The numerous backpacks and deer hides found outside the victim’s residence all belonged to the owner and were likely taken in the burglary. Inside of them police say they found over $1,200 in cash, two pairs of binoculars, two check books, about 275 rounds of various caliber ammunition, two pocket knives, and a box containing a 9mm Kimber pistol. Additionally, police say they found a jewelry box containing Avon jewelry, Belle’s jewelry and a ring, coins, and other items.

When interviewed by PSP, Martin allegedly admitted to breaking into the home but positing that he believed the homes were empty and that they were vacation homes. Martin was taken to Chambersburg Hospital after the interview due to him suffering a dislocated shoulder during the chase in the woods.

John Martin is free on an unsecured bail of $100,000. His preliminary hearing is set for January 30th.

Sources: Docket Number: MJ-39306-CR-0000193-2023, Incident No.: PA 2023-1686600