A 31-year-old in Altoona is in jail after police say he stole 18 guns that he then traded for drugs and cash.
Cameron M. Mease, 31, allegedly confessed to stealing the guns in October after he found the keys to a gun safe at a home on the 1600 block of Second Avenue where he had been living, according to charges filed by Altoona police.
The owner first reported two pistols as stolen on Oct. 15 but he returned to the Altoona Police Department on Oct. 31 to report more than two dozen more were gone.
It was when the guns were reported stolen that Mease allegedly gathered up his belongings, declared he was checking into rehab and took off after he was questioned by the owner of the guns as to what happened to them, police noted in the charges.
Mease was arrested Friday after Altoona police were called to an apartment on the 500 block of 19th Street for a possible drug overdose and although Mease stood outside the apartment and pretended to be a bystander, officers allegedly found mail with his name on it and a syringe inside.
When he admitted the syringe was his, Mease was arrested. Police then found heroin on him and he allegedly agreed to talk with cops about the stolen guns.
Police contend Mease admitted to finding the keys to the gun safe and spearheading an effort with two other people to find possible buyers they could barter with for drugs and cash while the guns’ owner was on vacation out of state.
Mease knew what guns were stolen, who he traded them to, and what he got for each one, police added.
In one instance, Mease said he drove a rifle to Tyrone where he exchanged it for $700 in cash and 200 bags of heroin. The two pistols that were the first guns reported stolen were sold to a man from Mount Union for between $500 – $600 each, Mease allegedly told police.
Police pointed out one of the stolen firearms, a .45 caliber pistol, was found when police conducting a search of an Altoona home in a drug case on Nov. 15.
Mease is a convicted felon and not allowed to possess or sell guns.
Mease was arraigned Saturday morning by Magisterial District Judge Ben Jones and lodged in Blair C0unty Prison in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.
He is charged with 91 felony counts that include theft, receiving stolen property and illegal possession of a firearm as well as 20 related misdemeanor counts.
A preliminary hearing is slated for Dec. 16.
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