A group of Suffolk high school students is suspected of breaking into dozens of homes in recent months and pawning what they took for spending money, Suffolk police said Friday.
The trio - Peter Cadet, 18, of Medford, Luis Correa, 16, of North Patchogue, and Demetri Rivera, 17, of Medford - were arrested Thursday and charged in connection with six home break-ins, police said. In addition, police say they have enough evidence to link the students - who attended Patchogue-Medford High School - to at least three other break-ins and possibly another 20 going back to last summer.
The group sold jewelry, computer equipment and other goods at pawnshops for pocket money, police said.
"This was almost like a job for them," said Det. Sgt. Bryan McMenemy of the Fifth Squad. "Instead of being a paperboy, they were going around breaking into houses."
Police said during several months members of the group would drive around and look for homes that appeared unoccupied. If they found a likely house, they'd ring the bell. If someone answered the door, the teens "asked for Mike" and then left, McMenemy said.
In most of the successful break-ins, the burglars forced open a rear door or window, police said. In one caper last June in Medford, someone shimmied through a doggy door.
Cadet and Correa were each charged with four counts of second-degree burglary. Rivera was charged with six counts of second-degree burglary. All six homes related to those charges are in Medford, North Patchogue and Ronkonkoma.
All three pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in First District Court in Central Islip Friday. Correa and Rivera were each held on $2,500 cash bail per count; Cadet was held on a total of $20,000 bail.
A person who answered the phone at Rivera's home declined to comment. Attempts to reach the Correa and Cadet families were unsuccessful.
Police said the three were arrested after they used a garden trowel to force open a rear window of a West Woodside Avenue home in North Patchogue. A neighbor heard someone going over a rear fence and called 911. They were arrested on Green Avenue as they walked back to Correa's home.
Police said the group members implicated themselves in many break-ins or attempted break-ins, some of which were not reported, and drove around with detectives pointing out homes they'd targeted. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible, police said.