Monroe detectives investigate two commercial burglaries

A window at the Gulf station at 536 Monroe Turnpike is boarded up in the aftermath of a burglary that took place early Thursday morning.

MONROE, CT — Police responded to two commercial burglaries, about a half-hour apart, late Wednesday into Thursday morning. Just before midnight, the alarm at the Monroe Smoke Shop, 181 Main St., sounded and the alarm at the Gulf station, 536 Monroe Turnpike, went off at approximately 12:32 a.m.

Both burglaries were “smash and grabs”, in which a large rock was used to shatter the front windows of the storefronts, before the burglars climbed inside.

Capt. Greg Smith said the incidents appear to be unrelated, because suspects’ descriptions show two different crews committed the crimes.

The crew that hit the gas station is believed to have been involved in several other smash and grabs in East Haven, West Haven and Derby — all in the same night. Smith said they stole a black Honda Pilot in Ansonia before going on the burglary spree.

Ansonia officers almost caught them, but broke off pursuit for the safety of the public when the suspects sped up rather than stopping, according to Smith.

Both of the Monroe burglaries are being investigated by the Monroe Police Detective Division.

Before 11:57 p.m., surveillance video at the Monroe Smoke Shop showed three males wearing masks, who were either White or Hispanic, break the glass to enter the store.

Police said they stole $750 cash, along with the cash register, which is valued at $800. The vehicle they used was captured on video.

Then at 12:32 a.m., officers responded to the Gulf station on Monroe Turnpike where the front window had been shattered and coins and cigarettes were strewn on the ground.

Inside, police said the cash register was knocked over and packs of cigarettes had been dropped throughout the store. Forced entry had been made into the manager’s office, according to the report.

The burglars made off with around $300 cash and multiple packages of cigarettes, police said.

Surveillance video showed three suspects in masks enter the building and a fourth one, the get-away driver, waiting inside the Honda Pilot.

One suspect was a male wearing black sweatpants, a black hoodie with NASA on the front, a black mask, gloves and shoes. Another is described as a Black male wearing gray sweatpants, a black hoodie, white shoes, a black mask and gloves. The third, who was Black or Hispanic, wore black sweatpants, a black mask and gloves, and a black and orange sweatshirt with Nike on the front.

Police did not get a description of the driver.

Intercepted in the mail

A 71-year-old Monroe man told police he wrote a $31,660 check and mailed it to his insurance company, but later received a notification that he did not make his June payment.

When his check cleared, he learned someone had intercepted his mail and washed the check, changing the name of the recipient to someone from Charlotte, N.C., and writing “lawsuit settlement” in the memo. The amount was unchanged.

Bank of America is investigating the incident.

DUI on Wheeler Road

A 49-year-old Wheeler Road man was charged with DUI following a traffic stop on his street late Wednesday night.

At approximately 10:49 p.m., police received a complaint of an erratic driver in a silver minivan, in the area of Routes 111 and 110.

An officer got behind the vehicle and observed it crossing the double yellow center line several times, then traveling at a slow speed, before initiating a traffic stop on Wheeler Road, according to the report.

Police said the driver had glossy eyes, a slurred speech and the odor of an alcoholic beverage on him, adding he was unable to perform field sobriety tests to standard, leading to his arrest.

He was charged with DUI and failure to drive in the proper lane, before being released on 10 percent of $500 bond for a July 25 court date.

Unemployment benefits scam

Police received 12 complaints, between Tuesday and Thursday, from residents victimized by a scam, in which someone fraudulently applied for unemployment benefits from the Connecticut Department of Labor using their names and information.

All the victims were advised to contact the three major credit bureaus, to monitor their financial accounts and to report the incidents to the Labor Department and the Social Security Administration.

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