A man caught breaking into a Dutchess County home in February has been connected to two other burglaries, including a break-in in Patterson, the Putnam County Sheriff's Department said Thursday.
Investigators said they suspect Mark J. Mendoza, 27, may be the so-called "Taconic Burglar" who hit homes along the Taconic State Parkway corridor in a three-county stretch over several months. Detectives tied Mendoza to the Patterson burglary after investigators in Dutchess County obtained a search warrant for Mendoza's Kent home, cops said. The Dutchess detectives were looking for items looted from burglaries in their jurisdiction, police said, but they also found several other stolen items from other burglaries.
Mendoza was originally caught on Feb. 25 after a sharp-eyed neighbor spotted him allegedly trying to force open the back door of a home on Trillium Road in LaGrange, State Police reported at the time. Troopers said Mendoza was inside the house when they arrived.
When troopers took Mendoza back to a substation to question him, Mendoza "made admissions to several burglaries in close proximity to the Taconic State Parkway throughout (the) Putnam and Dutchess County areas and may be implicated in several other burglaries in other counties," State Police said.
Mendoza is also a suspect in a break-in at a West Milford, N.J., home. Detectives in West Milford charged him with felony burglary after items belonging to the victims in that break-in were found in Mendoza's home. Along with jewelry, silverware and electronics that belonged to the West Milford victims, Mendoza allegedly had their passports -- which is how cops connected him to that burglary in Passaic County, according to a report in the Bergen Record.
At the time, troopers said Mendoza was "an unemployed bartender" from White Plains. Putnam sheriff's investigators said Mendoza lives in Kent. It's not clear if Mendoza had multiple residences or recently moved.
Investigator John Alfano from the Putnam County Sheriff's Department contacted the victims in the Patterson burglary, who identified the items cops found in Mendoza's house, police said.
On Tuesday, police charged Mendoza with second-degree burglary, a felony. Mendoza was already in custody in Dutchess County Jail, where he was held after the LaGrange burglary.
Anthony M. DeFazio, Mendoza's attorney, said he felt it was premature to comment on his client's case when contacted early Thursday evening. Mendoza, who was returned to Dutchess County Jail after he was arraigned on the charges in Putnam County, is scheduled to return to court for a hearing on May 21.