A rash of burglaries that had western Sullivan County residents living in fear for the past two weeks has ended. Thursday morning, June 20 Sullivan County Sheriff’s deputies charged a family burglary team consisting of a father, mother and son with breaking into several homes in the Jeffersonville/Kenoza Lake area.
Edward E. Curtis, 56, Mitzi C. Dunkleberger, 53, and Dylan E. Curtis, 21, of 145 Miller Road in Callicoon, NY, were arrested in connection with a burglary that occurred Wednesday afternoon at a residence on ST-17B between Jeffersonville and Callicoon.
A resident came home at about 5 p.m. to feed his dog and saw a strange vehicle occupied by a middle-aged man and woman in his driveway. He spotted a younger subject on his porch. When questioned, the family claimed to be looking for a nearby nail salon and went on their way.
The vehicle they were driving, a late '90s black Chevrolet Blazer, would turn out to leave a critical piece of evidence in the driveway—a puddle of oil that was leaking from the engine. The resident fed his dog and went back to work. When he returned to his home at about 7 p.m., he noticed that he was missing a pillow case, several watches and a jar with about $300 dollars in change.
At about 10:30 p.m. that evening, sheriff’s deputy Blake Starner was on patrol in Jeffersonville when he spotted a Chevrolet Blazer fitting the description, parked at a local car wash/laundromat. He could see that the vehicle was dripping oil on the ground.
Starner located the family inside doing their laundry. They were taken to the Sheriff’s Office in Monticello for questioning where two of the three family members admitted to committing several burglaries over the past two weeks.
Deputies recovered jewelry, bottles of alcohol, and some antique porcelain from the suspects' home.
Sheriff Mike Schiff said, “Their modus operandi, or method of operation, was to have the mother and father knock on the door of a residence to see if anyone was home. If a resident answered the door, the two would claim to be looking for a person or business. If no one answered the door, the son would then look for an open window or door to enter the residence.”
Using the oil puddle left behind by the suspects’ vehicle, Sheriff’s detectives have been able to link the suspects to two additional burglaries and two attempted burglaries on Route 52A in the vicinity of the Stone Arch Bridge. Sheriff’s deputies are also working with state troopers on some of their cases where the tell-tale oil puddle was left in the driveway of homes that were broken into.
The Curtis family was arraigned Thursday morning by Town of Delaware Judge John Kramer and sent to the Sullivan County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail each.
Deputies were assisted at the car wash in Jeffersonville Wednesday night by the New York State Polices.