At 1:40 a.m. on June 18, when an Edgewood Road woman was woken by her dog barking and the woman found a back door open, it wasn't just one burglar who had entered the house, or even two.
It wasn't even just three.
Four burglars in the same gang entered the house that night, stealing a laptop, two Gameboy videogames and the woman's purse, all in the kitchen.
That detail and many others were part of the lengthy warrant application for the arrest of Joshua Rivera, 21, of Trumbull, one of five men accused of committing the string of burglaries on the night of June 17-18 in Darien and of numerous burglaries elsewhere.
Darien police related these details in the arrest warrant application for Joshua Rivera and in an earlier arrest warrant application (Patch has also reported ; links to other storles about the burglaries are at the bottom of this article):
Police said Rivera admitted to taking part in the burglary operation. In Darien they entered unlocked cars on side streets, but on at least one occasion, on Edgewood Road, went through an unlocked back door.
Rivera said that first two of his companions went in—his older brother, Nelson Rivera; and a man he only knew as "Dee Dee". After those two went in and stole some property, they summoned two others, Livelle Sampson and Qu’amere Brantley, who then also entered the home, apparently while the first two waited outside.
The second pair then got scared off by someone in the house, Joshua Rivera said. Property from the Edgewood Road home was later found in the house shared by Joshua and Nelson Rivera, including a gift card from Barrett Bookstore. The laptop was pawned in Bridgeport by Nelson Rivera, and the woman's purse was tossed out the car window on Interstate 95 near Exit 15 (state police later found it).
Joshua Rivera said the group went to another town to do more stealing after the burglaries in Darien. He thought the group was in Wilton, he said. Police said they have found property in the possession of one or another of the burglars from many towns in Connecticut, including Darien, Norwalk, Wilton, Westport, Trumbull, Stratford, North Haven, Cheshire, Cromwell and Meriden.
A Sony digital recorder, which police believe was stolen, was found in Sampson's home during a police search. The recorder, apparently turned on by accident, has a 2 hour, 46 minute recording in which several voices can be heard discussing specific houses and stolen property.
Joshua Rivera told police that the group typically would drive to the end of a dark side street late at night and park at the far end. All five members of the group would leave the car and start trying vehicle doors to find unlocked ones.
Everyone usually stayed close enough to each other to be able to see the others, and each thief would get to keep what he stole.
A midnight encounter with Darien police
On the night of the burglaries, June 17-18, Livelle Sampson was driving the car north on Noroton Avenue at about midnight when he came to a traffic light at the intersection with Middlesex Road. They passed a Darien police car driving in the opposite direction, Sampson told police.
As they waited and waited for the red light to change, the police car returned with its emergency lights on. It pulled up beside the car.
Officer Daniel Gorton, driving Patrol Unit No. 16, recalled the incident. He later said that he pulled up beside the car and motioned for the other driver to open his window.
He told them that the traffic light was broken and that they should drive through the intersection. He also used his patrol car to block the intersection from oncoming traffic to let them proceed.
Gorton was later able to identify Livelle Sampson as the driver of the car, and Sampson also told police he had been driving that night. Gorton said he had no cause to stop the car, in which he thought he saw three other people silhouetted inside.
Holly Lane and Libby Lane, where several of the burglaries took place, were only blocks away, and all of the burglaries were within a half-mile radius of the intersection.
How that stop proved fruitful, after all
Gorton's interaction with the car's driver did produce one vital clue police later used to identify the burglars. Unit 16 carries a license plate reader—devices mounted on the back of the vehicle (see attached picture) that record license plates, the spot where they were found and the time. The recording is automatic, and Gorton didn't have to lift a finger for the car's license plate to be recorded.
When a credit card stolen in the burglaries was used to buy cigarettes in Bridgeport, a store video camera showed a vehicle. Darien police, looking through the license plate reader data for the night of the burglaries, found that the vehicle Gorton let through the intersection matched the description of the car in Bridgeport.
Darien police then used the license plate registration information to identify a rental car company as the owner, which led them to Joshua Rivera's girlfriend, who was renting the car for Rivera.
Why Joshua Rivera said he burgled
Rivera, who had been unemployed for eight months, told police he didn't commit burglaries with his brother and the rest of the group for money.
"Honestly, it was the adrenaline rush," the arrest warrant application quotes him saying during an interrogation by police. At another point, according to the application, Rivera said he looked up to his older brother, Nelson, and wanted to gain acceptance from him.
On the night of the burglary, Joshua Rivera said he never went to bed, but the next morning drove the rental car to Ft. Totten in Queens, where he was to report for his annual U.S. Army Reserve training at 6 a.m.
Editor's note: Darien Patch previously published these articles about the recent epidemic of burglaries in town:
- (July 23)
- (July 3)
- (June 29)
- (June 26)
- (June 25)
- (June 19)
- (June 11)
- (June 5)