- A friend of mind sent this to me today...I think everyone will get a kick out of it...Jim
GPS units track back to crack thefts
BY BRANDON BAIN
Newsday Staff Writer
January 19, 2007
Three Lindenhurst residents found out the hard way that it's not a good idea to steal global positioning system devices from the Town of Babylon.
Within hours of the theft, police used the devices' technology to track the thieves back to their homes and arrest them.
Babylon officials said they noticed Tuesday morning that 14 GPS devices had been stolen the night before from vehicles in the Department of Public Works storage yard on Sunrise Highway in Lindenhurst.
The town tapped its GPS system, which uses satellite technology to pinpoint a vehicle's location. The system showed one of the devices was inside a house at 234 Heathcote Rd. When police arrived Tuesday evening at the residence, they said Kurt Husfeldt, 46, was holding the device in his hands.
Husfeldt, whose criminal record includes two convictions for possession of a controlled substance and one for driving under the influence, was charged with criminal possession of stolen property.
His 13-year-old son also was arrested on grand larceny charges. Town officials said the boy committed the burglary with Steven Mangiapanella, 20, of 110 South 2nd St., Lindenhurst, who was arrested Wednesday and also charged with grand larceny.
Town officials said the group thought the GPS devices, which resemble cell phones, were only phones and planned to sell them.
"What they didn't realize was that they stole GPS tracking devices," town supervisor Steve Bellone told Newsday. "I think this is going to serve as a deterrent in breaking in to try to steal vehicles or other things"
The town installed 300 GPS devices in snowplows, dump trucks, street sweepers and other vehicles in January 2006.
Law enforcement agencies nationwide have reported rising thefts of GPS devices from vehicles in the past two years.
Police and Babylon officials were able to track one of the devices because the thieves were using it to make calls, said Lt. Thomas Kelly, of the First Precinct's Community Oriented Police Enforcement unit. "That assisted in the investigation because it was emitting a signal from one of the locations. "
Police and town officials said the other 13 GPS devices might have been dumped into the Great South Bay at Copiague's Tanner Park. Following Monday's break-in, Babylon officials said they did a GPS inventory and found another device had been taken from a flatbed truck in September.
The system showed the thief traveled in Nassau, Suffolk and New Jersey before his Wednesday arrest. Ricky Purnell, 40, of North Amityville, a furniture delivery man, was stopped after exiting the Southern State Parkway in Babylon as he returned from a delivery in Trenton. Purnell, whose prior convictions include criminal possession
and criminal sale of a controlled substance, was charged with criminal possession of stolen property. "This would be the equivalent of breaking into a car and stealing the LoJack instead of stealing the car," Bellone said.
Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.