BEDFORD, N.Y. – Julio Cesar Alvarez-Lua of New Rochelle was charged with felony burglary and grand larceny in connection with a series of car break-ins that occurred over the past six months on Reservoir Road in Katonah and Arthur Butler Sanctuary on Chestnut Ridge Road, according to Bedford police Sgt. Thomas Diebold.
Overall, 15 reports of car break-ins came into the police station beginning in March, Diebold said. "They were very sporadic at first,” he said, but “they really increased in July and August.”
Last week, after months of physical and video surveillance in the areas, which are popular among locals for walking and hiking, Bedford Detective Joseph Comunale and Detective Larry Haynes identified a suspect vehicle in a surveillance tape.
On Wednesday, police caught a lucky break when Officer John Evans pulled over a car for tinted windows on South Bedford Road near I-684. Alvarez-Lua, 28, was charged with five traffic violations, including not wearing a seat belt and operating a vehicle without a license, as well as possession of a forged Washington state license, a felony.
Police identified the car as the suspicious vehicle from the tapes, and a search warrant was obtained for the suspect’s residence, which yielded the recovery of stolen property in many of the car break-ins.
Alvarez-Lua has been charged with three felonies: criminal possession of a forged instrument, third-degree grand larceny in the theft of more than $3,000 in property and fourth-degree grand larceny in the theft of credit cards.
He also was charged with four misdemeanors, including fourth-degree criminal mischief in the breaking of car windows and two counts of criminal possession of stolen property.
Alvarez-Lua was held on $25,000 bond or $15,000 cash bail and was sent to the Westchester County jail. He is scheduled to appear in court later this month.
Diebold said the investigation into the stolen property continues, but he is relatively confident that the suspect was involved in most, if not all, of the vehicle break-ins reported to Bedford police.
Diebold reminded residents to keep property safe by locking it in the trunk, taking it out of the car, or placing it out of view and locking the vehicle.
“The only reason that this person kept on coming back was because the hunting was good,” Diebold said. “If people locked their cars and did not put their property in plain view, we wouldn’t have had nearly as many.”