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Man accused of stealing police gun belt, ammo in St. James

A Smithtown man is to appear in court Friday on charges related to allegations he stole a police gun belt and ammunition from a vehicle used by Suffolk Police Chief James Burke.

Christopher Loeb, 26, was indicted on Dec. 28 on 30 counts related to breaking into more than a dozen cars in St. James on Dec. 14. The charges include fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth- and fifth-degree possession of stolen property, seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Loeb was arrested later that morning and told Fourth Precinct detectives that he broke into the black GMC Yukon parked in a driveway in the early morning hours and took a bag that contained the belt and gun magazines, according to court records.

Loeb told police in a three-page statement made after his arrest that he had been driving around with Gabriel Miguelez, 36, of Lindenhurst, looking for cars to break into.

"The car [Burke's SUV] was unlocked and I took the bag," Loeb said in one of two statements he made that day. Police officials said Burke reported the vehicle was locked.

Loeb said in his statement that he found a GPS device, a box of cigars and a police gun belt. He also told police he and Miguelez broke into more cars before heading home with items they took from the vehicles.

"On the gun belt I saw handcuffs, two magazines, Mace, small flashlight and a whistle," Loeb said in his second statement. "I was going to bring the belt back to the car, but I was afraid to go back."

Loeb is being held on $500,000 bail. His court-appointed attorney, Toni Marie Angeli of Garden City, declined to comment on the case.

Miguelez, who also was arrested at Loeb's home, faces 22 charges in the same indictment, said his Mineola-based attorney Robert Schalk. Miguelez pleaded not guilty and was released from jail on Jan. 30 after posting $10,000 bond.

The Suffolk County district attorney's office said that a judge set Loeb's bail at $500,000 because of his previous felony convictions, including one in April for third-degree grand larceny.

"Police officers and their families are not exempt from being victims of the same criminals and types of crimes that affect all people in Suffolk County," Suffolk Chief Kevin Fallon said in an email statement on behalf of Burke.

Suffolk police are required to notify their commanding officers immediately when department-issued equipment is stolen. Fallon said Burke notified the department and commissioner Ed Webber about the loss of the gun belt and ammunition. Burke also, as required, filed an "internal correspondence" fully explaining the circumstances of the loss.

After the explanation is filed, county police are required to notify the New York State Police Information Network, a secure communications network for law enforcement departments across the state, with details about the missing equipment, including the manufacturer's serial number or the department's identification number.

But Fallon said no network transmission was needed because the items taken from Burke's vehicle had no serial number.

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