Two People Arrested for Burglarizing Businesses; Believed Police would be Preoccupied due to COVID-19
Suffolk County Police arrested two people in Bay Shore this morning for committing multiple burglaries of businesses throughout Suffolk County in March 2020 and April 2020, because of their belief police officers were preoccupied with the COVID-19 crisis.
A Third Precinct Patrol officer initiated a traffic stop after observing a Hyundai Santa Fe that fit the description of a vehicle used in previously reported burglaries. Further investigation by Fourth Squad detectives reveled the two occupants, Joseph Porter and Rebecca Wood, were the suspects involved in the burglaries and arrested them at approximately 11:20 a.m.
Additional investigation by Second, Third and Fifth Precinct detectives determined Porter and Wood were responsible for burglaries in those precincts.
Porter indicated to detectives that he was aware of the law enforcement challenges of the current COVID-19 crisis and thought he would be able to commit burglaries without being arrested.
Porter and Wood were charged in connection with burglaries that occurred at:
- Parkway Express, 1460 Brentwood Road, Bay Shore on March 9
- OK Petroleum, 221 W. Main St., Bay Shore on March 26
- Cold Spring Harbor Garage, 405 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor on March 31
- USA Auto, 62 Bay Shore Road, West Islip on March 31
- Sunoco, 341 West Jericho Turnpike on April 1
- Exxon, 323 Middle Country Road, Smithtown on April 1
- BP, 303 Maple Ave. Smithtown on April 2
- Valero, 255 Montauk Highway, West Sayville on April 3
- Valero, 1628 Montauk Highway, Oakdale on April 5
- Gulf, 1979 Veterans Memorial Highway, Islandia on April 7
- Bolla Mobile, 1670 Veterans Memorial Highway, Islandia on April 7
In addition, Porter was charged with a burglary that occurred at:
- Bohemia Car Wash, 4740 Sunrise Highway, Bohemia, on March 29
Porter, 31 of 128 Woodside Drive Mastic Beach, was charged with 10 counts of Burglary 3rd Degree, 2 counts of Attempted Burglary 3rd Degree, and one count Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th Degree.
Wood, 23, of 28 Crestwood Lane, Lake Ronkonkoma, was charged with 9 counts of Burglary 3rd Degree and 2 counts of Attempted Burglary 3rd Degree.
“Suffolk County Police officers have increased patrols to focus on businesses that could be targeted by criminals during this pandemic,”Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “These arrests should send a message to those looking to profit during this crisis—we are out in force and anyone who preys upon businesses and/or residents will be arrested. This is a challenging time for the residents of Suffolk County but the department remains focused on our top priority, to keep our residents safe.”
Porter and Wood will be held overnight at the Fourth Precinct. They are scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on April 8, 2020.
A criminal charge is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.