A Freeport man who left behind cigarette butts -- crime scene evidence -- pleaded guilty Thursday to burglarizing three local homes that were being renovated after superstorm Sandy, Nassau prosecutors said.
Keith Shippey, 24, is expected to get 7 years in prison when he is sentenced June 26 on three counts of second-degree burglary and fourth-degree grand larceny, prosecutors said.
He stole televisions, jewelry, Louis Vuitton bags, prescription medication and other valuables, and ripped out newly installed copper piping, further damaging homes wrecked by the storm, authorities said.
"These homeowners were victimized twice -- first by a powerful and destructive storm, and second by the heartless actions of a man who stole and tore down what they had just rebuilt," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a news release. "Leaving cigarette butts behind in these battered homes turned out to be not only disrespectful, but instrumental to bringing this defendant to justice."
Shippey broke into two Freeport homes between April 27 and 29 of last year. DNA evidence from cigarette butts he tossed in both houses put him at the crime scene, prosecutors said.
In the home burglarized April 29, residents returned to find an alcohol bottle in the kitchen -- they don't drink -- and officers recovered a cigarette -- the residents don't smoke, police said then.
His attorney, Cornell V. Bouse in Lloyd Harbor, said Shippey was addicted to drugs and pawned the stolen items to feed his habit. While he was in jail pending the case, he opted for drug addiction treatment and completed the program successfully, the attorney said.
"He's actually a decent kid who got wrapped up in drug addiction," Bouse said. "He was extremely remorseful for this."
Shippey was caught Aug. 27 hours after he had broken into another home, authorities said. Not only did he have stolen items in his car, Shippey was wearing pants with drywall dust from the home he had just burglarized, prosecutors said. He also had a wallet that had been stolen from another victim's car on Aug. 11, they said.
Bouse said Shippey is taking responsibility for the burglaries and his family's strong support will continue while he is in prison.