NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A suspicious man seen lurking in local neighborhoods has had Virginians on edge. Authorities tell 8News the person behind the wheel is now behind bars with the help of a good Samaritan.
Keith Adcock, a Navy veteran, spends his days on his New Kent property surrounded by nature and peace and quiet, until last week.
“The man walked all the way down my driveway,” said Adcock. “I got a long driveway, its about a quarter mile long.”
That man is believed to be Kevin Bernadini of Jarratt. Adcock tells 8News the 58-year-old walked down his driveway ignoring the trespassing and firearm signs posted, as well as the security cameras and large dog. The stranger claimed he made a wrong-turn and needed help getting back on the road. Adcock says he told the man he was busy and went about his day however, the next day he returned.
“He goes I don’t have any gas money,” Adcock said. “I’m a nice guy. I help anybody out that I can so I gave him 40 bucks for gas.”
Adcock says the man returned for a third time offering to cut down his trees for $1,000.
“I think he was scoping out the area and didn’t think anyone was home,” Adcock told 8News. “It was nine in the morning and everyone is at work. I think he takes stuff and sells it like a pawn shops and stuff.”
Meanwhile, on February 23, the New Kent Sheriff’s Office posted on social media that they’d received numerous reports from people concerned over a suspicious white van sitting near homes, the driver appearing to be watching them.
“When approached by residents the occupant would reply that the vehicle was in need of repair, that they were in need of money and could not travel any farther,’ stated New Kent Sheriff Joe McLaughlin.
Similar incidents were described on social media from the Tidewater area to the Richmond-Metro area. Many online posting the van and their interactions with the driver. Sheriff McLaughlin told 8News that he was aware of the allegations and was working with other jurisdictions in the investigation.
A few days later, Adcock was headed to a dentist appointment in Chesterfield County when he spotted the white van at a rest stop off of Interstate-64.
“My Spidey senses went off saying that’s him and sure enough I went back and it was him,” Adcock exclaimed.
Adcock shares with 8News that he confronted the man and snapped pictures, making sure to get the man’s face and van’s license plate.
“He gets out of the car and goes, ‘how did you find me, how did you know where I was at’,” Adcock shared.
Adcock said he turned the photos over to the New Kent Sheriff’s Office, which helped deputies track down Bernadini. Sheriff McLaughlin tells 8News he was arrested on Monday at 2:45 p.m. in the 6700 block of Emmaus Church Road in Providence Forge.
“It was reported that the individual had been in the area panhandling asking for money and/or a ride.”
Adcock says some are saying he’s a hero, but he says he’s just looking out for his community urging people to beware of their surroundings. He goes on to say that deputies visited his home on Tuesday to thank him for his assistance in tracking the suspect down.
“I don’t think I’m a hero, just doing my job,” said Adcock. “As a New Kent citizen, everybody out here looks out for one another.”
Bernadini is charged with altering of tags and shoplifting. Sheriff McLaughlin said the charge is a felony based on previous offenses of petty larceny. 8News did some digging and discovered Bernadini’s criminal record dates back to the 1990’s. He has faced a list of charges over the years including burglary, construction fraud, larceny, D.W.I, and obtaining money falsely.
Bernadini is behind bars without bond in Henrico’s East Jail.