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Cops: Pair charged for multiple Suffolk commercial burglaries

Suffolk police arrested and charged two people Tuesday in connection with multiple commercial burglaries that one of the suspects said were committed because he believed the coronavirus had preoccupied cops, according to authorities.

Joseph Porter, 31 of Mastic Beach, and Rebecca Wood, 23, of Lake Ronkonkoma, each face at least nine counts of third-degree burglary for 11 commercial break-ins that began March 9 and ended Tuesday, Suffolk police said.

Porter and Wood were arrested shortly before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in North Bay Shore when a Third Precinct officer pulled them over for a traffic stop after noticing their Hyundai Santa Fe “fit the description of a vehicle used in previously reported burglaries,” police said.

Officers determined that Porter and Wood were involved in the burglaries and arrested them, police said. Detectives learned the suspects were involved in burglaries in the Second, Third and Fifth precincts, police said.

Porter also told police he thought he would get away with the crimes, they said.

“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,” police said.

Porter was also charged with the March 29 burglary of Bohemia Car Wash, at 4740 Sunrise Hwy., police said. He faces 10 counts of third-degree burglary, two counts of third-degree attempted burglary, one count of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Wood was charged with nine counts of third-degree burglary and two counts of third-degree attempted burglary.

“Suffolk County Police officers have increased patrols to focus on businesses that could be targeted by criminals during this pandemic,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said in the statement. “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. This is a challenging time for the residents of Suffolk County but the department remains focused on our top priority, to keep our residents safe.”

Porter and Wood were held overnight at the Fourth Precinct, police said. They are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Central Islip, officials said.

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