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COVID-19: LI Duo Nabbed For String Of Burglaries In Attempt To Exploit Pandemic, Police Say

One of the businesses in Bay Shore allegedly targeted by two Long Island residents.
One of the businesses in Bay Shore allegedly targeted by two Long Island residents. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

A Long Island duo was arrested for allegedly burglarizing numerous businesses in March and April, thinking police were busy with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and would not catch them.

Suffolk County Police arrested Joseph Porter and Rebecca Wood, on Tuesday, April 7, in Bay Shore for allegedly committing the burglaries at least 10 businesses throughout Suffolk County, police said.

Porter, 31, of Mastic Beach, and Wood, 23, of Lake Ronkonkoma, were nabbed when a Third Precinct Patrol officer a Hyundai Santa Fe that fit the description of a vehicle used in previously reported burglaries, police said.

A further investigation by Fourth Squad detectives revealed Porter and Wood, were the suspects involved in the burglaries and arrested them at approximately 11:20 a.m.

During the arrest, 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 the Bohemia Car Wash, 4740 Sunrise Highway, Bohemia, on March 29.

Porter was charged with 10 counts of burglary, two counts of attempted burglary, and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Wood was charged with nine counts of burglary and two counts of attempted burglary. 

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said the department has increased patrols to focus on businesses that could be targeted by criminals during this pandemic.

“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," Hart said. 

Porter and Wood are scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on Wednesday, April 8.

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