October 22, 2021

Police: Small group behind thefts in city

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an error on who is being held on bail.

A rash of recent burglaries and thefts are largely the work of the same handful of people, said Cortland police, including a bicycle police said a homeless man stole after someone stole the homeless man’s bike.

“It’s unbelievable. We’re getting beat up by literally three or four people here in the city,” Lt. Michael Strangeway said.

He identified one of those people as Kyle Cobb, 34, homeless. Cobb was arrested Thursday and charged with third-degree burglary and petit larceny in connection with the May 11 theft of a bicycle from a garage on Madison Street.

Cobb allegedly stole the bike after his own bike — which he had also allegedly stolen — was stolen from him by someone else, said Detective Sgt. Sean Burns, who investigated the burglary. The bike has since been recovered.

Police have reported at least 21 residential and business break-ins since April, and another 16 larcenies involving cars, none of which were locked.

Strangeway said the repeat offenders continue to re-offend partly because they are released without having to post bond because of bail reform but also because the court system has been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Low-level offenders like Cobb get arrested and released, Strangeway said, only to immediately commit new crimes.

Cobb was also arrested in April after residents of an apartment of 28 Owego St. found him living there. He was accused of stealing items from the house and charged with second-degree burglary, a felony, and possession of burglar’s tools and petit larceny, misdemeanors.

“This is just going on and on,” Strangeway said. “Believe me, no one is more aggravated by this then the police.”

Strangeway said his detective division has been spending much of its time for weeks investigating crimes allegedly committed by this same group.

“With everything that everyone is going through, I personally find it inexcusable that these people are out there victimizing this community every day, and I hope they’re held accountable for it,” he said.

Strangeway pointed to a Monday burglary on South Avenue as part of this trend.

In this incident, Todd M. Brady, 30, homeless, and Jilleen Edinger, 34, also homeless, were arrested shortly before 1 a.m. Monday on South Avenue. Police said they were pulling a large dolly filled with items, many of them stolen from a South Avenue home where Brady and Edinger had been allowed to spend the night.

Both were charged with second-degree burglary, a felony, petit larceny, a misdemeanor, fourth-degree conspiracy, a felony, and criminal possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor. Edinger, who was found in possession of a throwing star, was also charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.

Brady is being held on $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear Thursday in city court.

Police said Brady was also responsible for stealing a washer and dryer from 26 1/2 Owego St., for which he was charged with second-degree burglary, a felony, and petit larceny, a misdemeanor, as well as being connected with a break-in at Cortland Machine and Tool at 60 Grant St., for which he was charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and fifth-degree conspiracy, both misdemeanors.

Brady was also arrested in connection with the April burglary of 51 Groton Ave., for which Nicholas J. Baldassarre, 28, of 6 Elm St., Cortland, and Andrew J. Fiorentini, 37, of 18 Sands St. were also arrested. All three were charged with second-degree burglary, grand larceny, fourth-degree conspiracy, felonies; and petit larceny, a misdemeanor.

Strangeway identified Cobb, Brady, Baldassarre and Fiorentini as being responsible for many of the burglaries and thefts over the past two months.