Police hope 2 arrests end stolen-goods spree

By Linda Carman
12:00AM / Wednesday, September 10, 2003

A hoard of stolen goods now reposing in a room at the Massachusetts State Police barracks in Lee could solve a summer’s worth of housebreaks from Williamstown to Sandisfield.

State police who arrested two men in a Cheshire trailer park Friday praised teamwork among departments countywide and beyond — specifically into New York State — for the drug-related arrests, which they hope will end the crime spree.

“If it wasn’t for everybody’s cooperation we wouldn’t even be at this point right now,” said Trooper Jeff Burke. “We have a 10-foot-by-20-foot room pretty filled up with

electronic equipment, jewelry, rare silver coins.”

State police Friday arrested Matthew H. Ostrander, 33, of Pine Valley Trailer Park, Cheshire, and Jeffrey J. Renzi, 28, believed to be staying with Ostrander, after an extensive investigation.

Ostrander and Renzi were arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court Friday, each pleading not guilty to charges of receiving stolen property worth more than $250. Judge Alfred A. Barbalunga set bail for both at $50,000 cash or surety, and they were remanded to the County House of Correction.

Police cited the pair’s heroin addiction as the motive for the widespread breaks. Ostrander was released from jail in March after serving a three-to four-year sentence for larceny; Renzi was released from state prison on June 1 after serving a two-to three-year sentence for armed robbery while masked.

It was coordination,” Burke said, that resulted in the arrest of the pair.

“The state worked with Williamstown, Lanesboro, Adams, Pittsfield, and it wasn’t just the Lee barracks,” he said. “The troopers in Cheshire were involved, too. We [in Lee] handled the breaks in South County.”

State police from the Shelburne and Russell barracks were also involved, and the two men are believed linked to thefts in Hampden and Franklin counties as well, police said.

The break in the case came on Aug. 17, with information from the Columbia County, N.Y., Sheriff’s Department about a car involved in suspicious activity. The description matched a vehicle thought to be involved in Berkshire County burglaries.

The two suspects had parked their car on a dead-end road in Canaan, N.Y., and began walking around a house, looking in windows and knocking on the door. When the owners answered their knocks, the pair told them they were lost and asked directions to Lebanon Valley Speedway.

The homeowners’ son, a New York police officer, was there with his parents and wrote down the license plate number, which Massachusetts State Police learned was registered to Ostrander’s mother.

In conducting the investigation, police queried pawnshops in Springfield and Pittsfield, where they learned that the pair had pawned items stolen from Berkshire County residences.

According to police, the pair sold DVDs stolen from a Colrain home in Franklin County to two Pittsfield businesses.

Williamstown Police Chief Arthur A. Parker Jr. said, “We suspect that some of the stolen property recovered in Cheshire will result in us being able to close cases in Williamstown.”

He added, “I understand it’s an incredible amount, and it will take time for owners to identify it. Officers are going to establish viewing hours for possible victims to view the property and hopefully identify their belongings.”

Parker warned that not all the summer’s housebreaks could be attributed to Ostrander and Renzi. And while other arrests of unrelated thieves, have been made, the roundup may not be over.

“Sgt. Kyle Johnson arrested David Jones within minutes of his entering a house on Blair Road. We feel that he and the people he was associated with were involved in several housebreaks that we have not cleared by arrest,” Parker said.

“Although we feel that this [arrest of Ostrander and Renzi] will clear a significant amount of breaks, residents are still cautioned to keep doors and windows locked when they are not at home.”

Ostrander and Renzi have lengthy criminal records. In January 2000, Ostrander was convicted in Berkshire Superior Court on larceny charges stemming from a series of thefts from Dettinger Lumber Co. in Pittsfield and L.P. Adams in Dalton. In 1992, he had been sentenced to eight to 10 years in prison for burglary and robbery in Franklin County.

Renzi was sentenced to his two- to three-year prison term for his part in robbing a Lanesboro Getty Service Station on Route 7 in 1999, in which the attendant was beaten up.

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