December 5, 2021

Safe theft sparks pursuit

The van looked a little suspicious when it passed an off-duty police officer Monday night on Sunnyfield Drive in Cortland: It was so weighed down that its bottom dragged on the pavement, leaving a trail of sparks.

Maybe it was the stolen safe inside.

Thus began a chase that led to one arrest, and two suspects still on the loose this morning, police said.

A large safe was stolen from a Sunnyfield Drive residence while the homeowner was away, Cortland police said. The safe was heavy enough to require a winch to remove it.

About 8:30 p.m. Monday, the van hauling the safe passed an off-duty police officer on Sunnyfield Drive, and the officer called the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office for assistance, sheriff’s Lt. Todd Caufield said this morning.

Sheriff’s officers found the van near Blodgett Mills and Page Green roads in Cortlandville and when it failed to stop, the officers pursued. One suspect fled from the van at the intersection, city police Lt. Michael Strangeway said.

The van then turned north on Page Green Road toward the city. As it approached the city, it began to swerve and lose control, sending the safe out of the back of the van, Strangeway said. Two other suspects fled the scene from there.

Sheriff’s officers caught one of the suspects, Christopher Knickerbocker, 40, of 60 Cortland St., Homer, and handed him over to city police. He was charged with second-degree burglary, a felony; petit larceny, a misdemeanor. Strangeway said Knickerbocker will be issued an appearance ticket for a later court appearance.

The other two people remain free, but the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information can call Strangeway at 607-758-8307.