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Long IslandCrime

Mom, son charged in CVS, Rite Aid drugstore thefts, cops say

From left, the Northport Police Department arrested Antoinette

From left, the Northport Police Department arrested Antoinette Russo, 46, her son, Michael Russo, 20, and Dean Balsamo, 36, all of Patchogue, in a string of thefts from chain drugstores, police said on Thursday, May 12, 2016. Credit: Northport Police Department

Three Patchogue residents — including a mother and her adult son — face charges in a string of Northport drugstore thefts in which police said they intentionally set off security alarms to fool employees into thinking they were faulty.

Antoinette Russo, 46, and her son Michael Russo, 20, both face larceny charges, Northport police said Thursday.

A 36-year-old family friend, Dean Balsamo, was charged with criminal possession of stolen property and petit larceny. Police said he drove the Russos to various stores to commit the thefts but did not enter.

Northport police said they are working with Suffolk police detectives as the three are “suspected in similar crimes” in other parts of the county.

Northport police said the Russos entered several stores with small, previously stolen items in their possession that would trip the alarms. Staff would allow the pair to enter thinking the alarms went off in error.

The mother and son would then buy a small item — often a can of soda — and would leave with stolen goods, police said. When the alarm went off again upon their exit, workers would again think it was faulty.

The Russos stole $1,300 worth of merchandise from the CVS at 753 Fort Salonga Rd. on April 26 and two days later removed $2,816 worth of goods from the Rite Aid store at 395 Fort Salonga Rd., authorities said.

On May 7, they hit both stores again, walking away with $2,017 in merchandise from CVS and $585 in goods from Rite Aid, authorities said.

Northport Police Det. Peter Hayes was able to identify Michael Russo as a suspect and “develop the pattern the suspects used,” police said.

On May 11, the detective staked out the Northport CVS. At about 7 p.m., he saw Russo and his mother enter the store, police said.

“They were stopped when they exited and had in their possession a bag containing $887.44 in goods they had just stolen from the store,” the Northport police said in a statement. “The staff of the store was unaware of the theft.”

Antoinette Russo was charged with two counts each of fourth-degree grand larceny and petit larceny and one count of criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree.

She ordered held on $129,000 bail at arraignment Thursday at Northport Village Court. Balsamo, who was charged with criminal possession of stolen property and petit larceny, was ordered held on $23,000 bail, police said.

Both are being held in Suffolk County jail.

Michael Russo, who faces charges of fourth-degree grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and two counts of petit larceny, will likely be arraigned on Monday night, authorities said.

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