The 600 block of Walnut Street in Emmaus looks much like many other streets on the north side of the borough. Turning onto Walnut Street from Seventh, large single-family brick homes line both sides of the street, with neatly manicured front lawns and well-placed trees and shrubs.
The holiday decorations are going up.
A bit further on Walnut Street are a series of equally neat duplexes -- many brick, and all of an architectural design seen throughout the Lehigh Valley.
It's a "storybook neighborhood," says a man who has lived in one of the double-block homes for five years. It's a place where he says he feels safe letting his second-grade daughter freely come and go. That is, he says, with the exception of the far end of the street, near Sixth Street.
“There’s always trouble down there,” said the man, who asked that his name not be used.
So it didn't come as too much of surprise to him and another neighbor to learn that the 31-year-old man arrested Friday night as the "Bicycle Bandit" had lived at the end of the street in a more transient part of the neighborhood, in a pale yellow unit at the end of a row. Steven S. Felton, of 617 1/2 Walnut St. faces charges of robbing six convenience stores and beer distributors in October and November in Emmaus, Coopersburg and Whitehall.
The investigation is continuing.
Felton was arraigned by District Judge Michael Pochron who set bail at $300,000.
Felton faces charges on six robberies, including one Oct. 16 at Liberty Bell Beverage, 1438 Chestnut St., Emmaus. According to the arrest affidavit, Felton wore a Halloween mask, possibly that of a pig, in that robbery, which led police to believe the robber may have had a connection to Emmaus and didn't want to be recognized.
The man who said he lived in the "storybook neighborhood" said he did not know Felton, nor was he aware of his arrest when he first spoke to Patch on Saturday. He said that he and his daughter had been outside Friday at around 8 p.m. putting up their outdoor holiday decorations, and didn’t realize that anything was going on.
A woman who has lived in the 600 block of Walnut Street for four years had read a news story about Felton’s arrest. While she also didn’t know Felton, she said, she wasn’t surprised to learn he lived down the block.
“People are always moving in and out down there,” said the woman, who also asked that her name not be used. That is in contrast to the rest of the neighborhood, where many are elderly and have lived there for their entire lives, she said.
One man who now resides on Walnut Street moved in September from Harrisburg to take care of his 90-year-old mother in the home where she had lived for 30 years. Like his mom, the man said, many of the neighbors probably never heard of the "Bicycling Bandit" and were likely unaware of Felton’s arrest.
In addition to the Emmaus robbery, Felton is charged in the following robberies, according to court documents:
- Nov. 20: Hess Station, 308 N. Third St., Coopersburg; unknown amount of money taken.
- Nov. 13: Sunoco One Stop, 2304 MacArthur Road, Whitehall; $1,000 taken.
- Oct. 16: Jordan Park Beverage, 1208 MacArthur Road, Whitehall; failed attempt to grab cash register.
- Oct. 11: Hess Station, 1043 Lehigh St., Allentown; $542 taken.
- Oct. 6: Top Star Mobil gas station, 2724 MacArthur Road, Whitehall; $83 taken.
As in every criminal case the fact that an arrest has occurred or a complaint has been filed is merely an accusation; and the defendant, Steven Felton, is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.