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Police: Landscaper Gets Upper Hand, Thieves Caught

According to the Norwalk police account, a resourceful landscaper turned the tables on two Norwalk men who stole his leaf blower -- now he's got it back and they're due in court.

The owner of a landscaping business, fed up with thefts of equipment from him and other landscapers, chased down two thieves on Thursday, got his leaf blower back, then got them arrested, police said.

Norwalk police gave this account (an accusation not proven in court) of the matter:

The landscaper, working on West Rocks Road, saw a vehicle pull up to his truck, which was parked on the side of the road, and pause there while he was working. He became suspicious and went to his truck to see if anything had been stolen.

Something had: His Red Max EBZ 85000 with a value of $545. He hopped in the truck and drove off in search of the thieves.

He found the vehicle on Mid Rocks Drive, just off of West Rocks Road. It drove into a driveway -- which he then blocked with his own truck.

He got out and told the two men inside that they should give him back his leaf blower and that he would be going to police about the matter.

He took down the license plate number of the Jeep. One of the men inside, 19-year-old Andrew Santangelo of 141 Newtown Ave., got out and removed the leaf blower from the back of the Jeep and put it in the landscaper's truck.

The landscaper took Santangelo's picture with his cell phone. The landscaper didn't get a good look at the other man in the Jeep. Before he called police to the scene, the driver of the Jeep drove it over the lawn and left.

After the landscaper went to Norwalk Police Headquarters to report the incident, police called the owner of the Jeep, who told them her son, Sean Whitteaker, 21, of 41 Mohawk Dr., drove the vehicle and he was at work.

A police officer went to Whitteaker's workplace and asked him to explain what happened with the leaf blower that day. Whitteaker said he'd discuss the matter with police after he hired a lawyer. The police officer arrested him.

In what's known as the "Speedy Information Rule," Police are allowed to arrest someone within eight hours of an event if the arrest is based on information immediately obtained, according to a Norwalk Police Department spokesman.

As Whitteaker was taken into custody, the officer asked him if he had any illegal drugs on him. Whitteaker said he had half of a marijuana cigarette in his pocket. The officer took it.

After he was arrested, Whitteaker decided to confess to police, and he identified Santangelo as his partner in that crime. He was also apologetic.

Whitteaker was charged with fifth-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit fifth-degree larceny and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana. He was released on a promise to appear Dec. 13 in state Superior Court in Norwalk.

Police then found Santangelo, who denied that he had participated in any theft, and also charged him with fifth-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit fifth-degree larceny. He was released on a promise to appear on the same day in the same court as Whitteaker.
Jeck December 10, 2013 at 08:49 AM
Sound like some great kids. Mom must be proud.

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