Stefan Veremko, 28, was arrested after being spotted running from a Lenox building with a pillow case full of loot, said police. Veremko may be responsible for a rash of break-ins reaching from Southern Vermont to South County.
"We have reason to connect him to a couple of the housebreaks in town," said Police Chief Michael Williams on Monday. "We're still working the investigation with the other agencies in trying to link him to others [incidents]."
Williams said he was contacted by Lenox police on Saturday, the day after Veremko was arrested.
Recent burglaries in Clarksburg and Stamford, Vt., have had residents up in arms. More than 100 packed into the Stamford Valley Golf Course clubhouse on Saturday to discuss a forming a crime watch.
According to the Lanesborough Concerned Citizens Newsletter, that town, too, has been dealing with break-ins. Lanesborough Police Chief Mark Bashara said every effort was being made to find the perpetrators, according to Editor Al Hartheimer, and that all Berkshire County police departments were cooperating in the effort.
Stamford held a meeting with state police and a deputy sheriff two weeks ago over break-ins; Richmond is planning a similar meeting this Wednesday. Unlike those two towns, Clarksburg has its own, albeit small, police force and doesn't depend on state police for coverage.
Williams said he's been working with state police and other police agencies and that they keep each other apprised of ongoing investigations through a monthly "detectives' meeting," at which the recent rash of break-ins around the county was discussed.
"We had been putting the information together but couldn't link the Stamford and Clarksburg ones to that group," he said. "Now we're able to and its starting to fall together now."
It's not unusual for the bedroom community to have a few break-ins a year, but this time four occurred one right after the other at the end of October, beginning of November. At the same time, at least two break-ins were reported in Stamford and a possible attempted one. A couple break-ins had also occurred a month or so earlier in Clarksburg.
A number of Clarksburg residents have complained of lack of communication but Williams said the Selectmen have been kept informed and officers have spoken neighbors, as well as talking with other police agencies such as North Adams. A lot of information can't be released, he said, because it could hamper an ongoing investigation.
Veremko's arrest could bring closure to a number of break-ins fairly quickly.
"A majority of the time it doesn't happen [this fast]," said Williams. "I've seen it go for a year and then we find a clue or get information that closes the whole case."
The Selectman will take up the issue of the burglaries on Wednesday during their meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall. A scheduled public hearing about a blighted house has been rescheduled to Dec. 9 because of problems getting the legal notice published in time.
Update 11/17/2009: Lenox Police will hold a viewing of the hundreds of pieces of evidence found from noon to 8 on Thursday, Nov. 19, in the auditorium of the Town Hall at 6 Walker St. Only those who have been a victim of a larceny and have an ID (driver's license, etc.) and proof of loss (such as a police report) will be allowed into the viewing. For more information, contact Lenox Police at 413-637-2346.
WNYT Channel 13 is reporting that a Pittsfield man connected to dozen break-ins around the county, Southern Vermont and eastern New York over the past six months was arrested in Lenox because of "a very observant witness."
Lenox Police Chief Stephen O'Brien told the station on Sunday that Stefan Veremko, 28, was charged with a daytime break in, receiving stolen property and possession of ammunition without a permit for an incident last Wednesday
Veremko broke into a building on East Street in Lenox last Wednesday afternoon, according to police, and was spotted
jumping into a gray Hyundai Elantra and fleeing the scene. The witness jotted down the license plate, followed the car until it turned down a dead-end street, then noted the license plate was switched when it re-emerged.
The car was seized Friday and police found evidence of recent burglaries in his home.
Veremko was to be arraigned in Southern Berkshire District Court on Monday. The Lenox Police Department will display evidence seized a later date. Anyone who's been victim of a breaking and entering into their home and suspect that Lenox may have some property should contact their local police department.
According to his MySpace page, Veremko is a student at BCC (where he made honors) and an assistant supervisor at Hillcrest Educational Centers.
Thanks to the Stamford Vermont Crime Watch for bringing this to our attention.
Update 11/16: We may have more news soon on Veremko's alleged connections to break-ins in Clarksburg.
The suspect is described as wearing a black, hooded sweat shirt, sneakers and baggy jeans. He may be alone or working with someone in a vehicle. The majority of the break-ins have been during the day; at least one has occurred at night.
A number of homeowners have reported someone similar in description to the suspect as knocking on doors and claiming to have lost a dog. Police say this may be a method of casing the house to see if someone's home.
Update on 11/15/2009 at 8:25 p.m.: According to the Stamford Crime Watch, the North Adams Police say they know who the individual is, but do not have enough evidence to arrest him. He reportedly has a girlfriend who acts as a spotter. She is described as attractive, thin, about 5-foot-5 and weighs approximately 115 pounds, with brown shoulder-length hair.
Update 11/16/2009: Clarksburg Police say the Pittsfield man arrested last week in Lenox has been linked to at least two burglaries in Clarksburg. The MO of the alleged burglar also is similar to that of two burglaries carried out in Stamford, Vt.