Syosset and Woodbury homes and businesses were among the 51 targets of what officials are calling a high-tech burglary crew suspected of stealing more than $10 million worth of cash and property.
“This brazen crew used local homes and businesses as their personal piggybanks and with so much stolen over so long a period of time, this was a highly organized, systematic, professional team of criminals,” DA Rice said at a Jan. 9 news conference.
Alleged ringleader Nikitas “Nicky” Margiellos, 33, of West Babylon; Gerard Camarano, 54, of Valley Stream; Trung Lu, 32, of Ridgewood; and two unnamed co-defendants not yet arrested, were indicted by a grand jury after investigators linked their methods to unsolved burglaries between 2009 and 2011 during “Operation Crook, Line & Stinker,” named due to the way the defendants’ used the term “fishing” as a code word for their burglaries.
The crew cut telephone lines to disable alarms and used cellular telephone signal-jamming devices to stop the back-up alarms from notifying the alarm companies’ central stations, according to investigators. At other times the crew allegedly gained access to commercial establishments by cutting through the wall of an adjoining building. Cash businesses were targeted and, when the burglaries were successful, the business owners’ residences were then burglarized.
The crew also used GPS devices on business owner’s vehicles to locate residences and to track the owner’s movements over an extended period of time. By doing so, the defendants were able to develop a pattern in their routines, according to investigators. With nearly all the burglaries, crew members conducted extensive Internet searches and physical surveillance of target locations prior to “going fishing.”
In order to avoid police, crew members used disposable phones, walkie-talkies and police scanners.
Investigators say more burglaries are suspected and cold cases are being re-investigated for matches to this crew.
Margiellos, Camarano and Lu all pleaded not guilty.
They are charged with burglary and possession of burglary tools and will appear in Nassau County Court on Jan. 28.