High-Tech Burglary Crew Indicted on State Charges
By Joe Randazzo Published: January 10 2014
It took a joint effort of DA Rice, DA Spota, the FBI, IRS, the SCPD, NCPD, and NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau to take down the ...
State charges have been announced against a high-tech burglary crew accused of stealing more than $10 million in cash and property. The burglars struck 50 commercial businesses and residential homes in both Nassau and Suffolk. It took a joint effort of Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, the FBI, IRS, the SCPD, NCPD, and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, to take down the alleged burglars.
One member of the crew included former NYPD Detective Ray Astacio.
“This brazen crew used local homes and businesses as their personal piggybanks and with so much stolen over so long a period of time, this was a highly organized, systematic, professional team of criminals,” DA Rice said. “With the extensive cooperation my office is receiving from the offices of U.S. Attorney Lynch, the FBI, the IRS, DA Spota, and the Nassau, Suffolk and New York Police Departments, we will continue this ongoing investigation and hold these defendants accountable.”
The burglars hit doctor’s offices, perfume warehouses, cigarette warehouses, high end leather goods stores, restaurants, a meat warehouse, DSW Shoe Warehouse, Scents Forever in Hicksville, and a coin store.
Before entering a location the crew cut telephone lines to disable alarms, and used telephone signal jamming devices to stop back-up alarms from contacting alarm companies. After taking the necessary precautions they made their way inside by cutting through the walls of adjoining buildings.
When researching a target they planned on hitting, the burglars took GPS devices from business owner’s vehicles to locate where they lived. They did this to research the patterns of the owners. The term “going fishing” was used when studying locations and doing extensive internet searches of their targets.
The operation was called “Operation Crook, Line & Stinker” due to the "going fishing" term the crew used.
The group allegedly avoided law enforcement by using disposable phones, walkie talkies, and police scanners with the appropriate precinct frequency codes.
They were caught through court-authorized wiretaps which recorded telephone conversations in June 2012. On the night they were arrested the SCPD, NCPD, the DA’s Squad, and FBI set up surveillance outside of a burglary location. They spotted Joseph Alacqua and Michael Brown allegedly entering a vacant home and then exiting with personal property. The two men, and getaway driver Detective Astacio, were arrested at the scene. That particular case is currently pending in a Suffolk County Court.
After a court ordered warrant, the NCPD and DA Squad found the burglar’s devices at an Omega Storage in Amityville. Authorities recovered telephone jammers, jack hammers, saws, drills, acetylene torches, radio chargers, hydraulic floor jack, pry bars, bolt cutters, grinders, sledge hammers, axes, a dog catcher pole, gloves, and ski masks.
The defendants were arrested on January 9th. Nikitas “Nicky” Margiellos, 33, of West Babylon, Gerard Camarano, 54, of Valley Stream, and Trung Lu 32, of Ridgewod, all plead not-guilty and are due back in court on January 14th. They have each been indicted on two counts of Burglary in the Third Degree and two counts of Possession of Burglar’s Tools. They face a maximum sentence of 4-2/3 to 16 years in prison.
The crew has currently been linked to several unsolved burglaries.
[Source: District Attorney Kathleen Rice]