Remember when you were young and parents, teachers and clergy kept insisting upon the benefits of sharing? Well, Investigators in Western Massachusetts have recently learned those benefits first-hand. As a result of sharing information with other police departments, West Stockbridge law enforcement believe they have stopped a spree of burglaries and larcenies. Of course, the other passenger on this sharing train is the gentleman they arrested; he gets a lawyer.
Timothy W., 40, of Great Barrington (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is that gentleman. He was arrested Thursday and arraigned in Pittsfield Superior Court on Friday. At that time, he was merely being charged with the break-in and theft at Rouge, a restaurant on West Center Road in West Stockbridge. However, law enforcement now believe that Rouge was one of a number of late-night break-ins which took place in the town last week.
Counting the eatery, there were allegedly six buildings broken into late night Wednesday or early Thursday morning, including three restaurants, a gift shop, a real estate agency and a vacant home.
Unheard of? Apparently not.
There had been a similar string of more than two dozen similar business break-ins in South County and Columbia County, New York. In fact, it is believed that the Defendant had been on quite a spree and was, in fact, spreading the loss-of-wealth around. West Stockbridge Police Chief Michael Stanton indicates that the break-ins have been going on for a while and “…Wednesday night, we had ours.”
Members of the West Stockbridge, Great Barrington, Egremont, Lenox and Columbia County, N.Y. police departments, along with state police from the Lee barracks, met Thursday to discuss the string of business break-ins that had been occurring — all of which follow a similar pattern, according to Stanton.
That meeting, along with information from local business owners, gave the department the break needed for the arrest, Stanton said.
“It’s good to get together [with other departments], especially in a small town like ours,” said Stanton, of the benefits of the sharing of information which took place in the meeting.
The Defendant remains a suspect in the other West Stockbridge cases, Stanton said, but investigators are looking at other suspects as well. It is unclear at this time if he will be arrested for any burglaries in the other towns at this time.
This is not the first time we have discussed the fact that today’s law enforcement community is one which likes to keep in touch…not matter how widespread.
It is a message that has two effects. It brings comfort to crime victims, potential crime victims and the rest of society…for the most part. “The most part” excludes those same people when they, mistakingly or not, end up being the accused as a result of such sharing.
Like most things, the benefits of sharing are only as good as those who are doing the sharing. Unfortunately, such sharing groups are comprised on individual human beings. Human beings, even en masse, make mistakes. True, the comparing of information and evidence works against such mistakes, but the very fact of such sharing of information should not be taken as anything more than what it is, namely, the grouping together of various information compiled by individuals who have their own prejudices, assumptions and opinions.
In other words, they can still make mistakes.
What is no mistake, however, is the assumption that once a group reaches its shared opinion, they become even more sure than if they had reached their conclusion on their own.
Whoever the sharers have decided likely did the crime is going to be, at least, investigated. They will also probably be charged.
Knowing law enforcement’s growing ability through this “information age” and its technical possibilities, it is no surprise that these meetings are occurring more and more often. It is easier than ever to share information, whether it be from town to town, state to state or even country to country.
The message here is that the old days of “What are the chances”, assuming that various jurisdictions will not be comparing notes over crimes of which you are suspected are long over. Jurisdictions talk. Jurisdictions share. We have discussed this many times, particularly on the subject of outstanding warrants.
As a result, if you were a suspect of some crimes in, for example, Philadelphia and figured it was safe to move to Massachusetts and start again, figuring that the good folks in the Commonwealth would know nothing of your suspicious past in Philly, guess again.
There is no real escape. There is only defense.
This is why, if you feel you are being investigated for a crime, even if that crime is in another state, it is important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
It may be more expensive than simply leaving town…but it is also more effective.
NOTE TO READERS: Tomorrow’s Weekly Attorney Sam’s Take Discussion: What is “larceny” anyway?
For the full article concerning today’s posting of the Boston Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog, go to http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ci_12728293