SARANAC LAKE - Village police Wednesday night arrested an 18-year-old who they say broke into more than 20 cars in the village over the past four months, selling some of the items he stole and throwing away others.
The young man, whose name is being withheld as he may be eligible for youthful-offender status, was arrested at 9:13 p.m. and charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a felony, as well as two misdemeanors: fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and making a punishable false written statement. He was processed, arraigned in village court and released under the supervision of probation to reappear at a later date.
Police are still searching other locations for stolen items that they didn't have time to check Wednesday, including wooded areas where some items may have been thrown, said village police Chief Bruce Nason. Nason said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests may come.
The majority of the thefts were in the downtown area and Helen Hill, according to police; a couple were also reported around Kiwassa Road.
Nason said a wide variety of items have been reported stolen and much has been recovered, including fishing poles, GPS mapping devices, cell phones, numerous CDs, a shovel, a cell phone charger, a bag of ice melt, purses, toys, a corkscrew and duffel bags, which were empty when recovered but may have had property in them when stolen.
A laptop computer was also recovered after being reported stolen from a car in a Church Street parking lot and is the basis for the felony charge, as it is worth more than $1,000.
The defendant denied the thefts when questioned, leading to the charge of making a false statement.
Nason said police have been interviewing numerous people who live near the locations where the alleged thefts occurred over the past four months, reviewing surveillance tapes from nearby businesses and receiving tips from the public.
"It was a group effort," said Patrolman Casey Reardon, one of the officers on the case. "It was ongoing; we had been stepping up patrols and doing more foot posts at night."
Nason said police spoke to a number of people who received items that were allegedly stolen without realizing they were stolen, leading to searches of four residences.
"They were very forthcoming and cooperative in telling us how they obtained it," Nason said.
Nason said the police received a lead from someone Wednesday morning that led to the arrest that evening.
"We appreciate the public helping us to solve this, and any time they think they have any kind of tip, we strongly encourage them to call us," Nason said.
Police recovered more property than has been reported stolen, but polices said they have reason to believe much of it was stolen. Therefore, they are asking people who may be missing items but haven't reported them to call them at 891-4422 or come by the police station behind the village offices on Main Street.
"There are some people, I'm sure, who did not report (thefts) to us," Nason said. "We're asking people who haven't reported something missing from their vehicle to please call us."
Enterprise Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.