Numerous burglaries linked to suspect

Det. Sgt. Stephen K. Dickinson sorts through a wide variety of apparently stolen items which were seized when Westfield and Holyoke police executed a search warrant at a Holyoke bodega where property stolen from burgled houses in the city is believed to have been fenced. (Photo by Carl E. Hartdegen)

WESTFIELD – Police Capt. Michael McCabe appears to have been prescient Tuesday when he said, hours after the capture of a man breaking into a house on Devon Terrace, “We can’t link him (to other house breaks) but we suspect we will be able to link him (to others) shortly.”
In fact, within 24 hours, police had apparently cleared more than a half dozen outstanding cases of breaking and entering which city police, under the direction of Westfield Det. Sgt. Stephen K. Dickinson, had been investigating and that number doubled in the next 24 hours.
Christopher D. Moll, 45, formerly of 2063 Memorial Drive, Chicopee, was apprehended in the act of attempting to kick in a basement window of a house on Devon Terrace by an off duty police officer from a nearby community who had called 911 to report a suspicious person in his neighborhood.
However, when Moll was taken into custody, no vehicle associated with him was found. McCabe said, “It would be odd to be in Devon Manor without a car” so police sought his vehicle but Dickinson had another idea.
He had been investigating several other breaks which occurred at similar times in which entry had been made via a cellar window and had developed information to suggest that the perpetrator had been dropped off by an accomplice near his target houses and subsequently picked up so he began to search, not for a vehicle, but for a driver.
Although Moll attempted to obfuscate his residence when he was arrested by giving police his father’s address (where he is not welcome by his father who said he has not seen him in years) but Dickinson was able to discover a former address in Chicopee.
Dickinson said that he was also able to identify a former girlfriend of Moll’s who lives in Chicopee and agreed to speak with him.
Dickinson traveled to Chicopee with Det. Brian Freeman to speak with the woman who, he said “was eager to help” and “gave us all kinds of information.”
Dickinson said that the woman knew of, and described, a Tiffany ring valued at about $12,000 that had been stolen from a house on Springdale Road and said that she also identified a man who had driven Moll.
Dickinson and Freeman then went to see the man she identified and found him at his home in Westfield.
Dickinson called the man ”remorseful” and described him as a Viet Nam veteran with no criminal record who was “very compliant” and allowed police to search his home.
Dickinson said that the man “will be charged with the exact same charges” but said, as an inducement to cooperate with police, “he’s getting charged, he’s not getting arrested” so he will not be held in jail pending trial.
Dickinson said that Moll’s accomplice admitted driving Moll around and dropping him off while he burgled houses on Devon Terrace, Northwest Road, Bailey Drive and twice on Springdale Road where four houses were entered and an attempt was made to enter a fifth house.
In addition, Moll’s accomplice showed Dickinson a house in Holyoke where Moll had broken in and described a house in South Hadley that Moll had burgled.
The man told Dickinson that Moll was “responsible for a ton of breaks in Connecticut and throughout the area” which he did not have direct knowledge of.
The accomplice also took the detective to a Holyoke bodega where he said he had driven Moll to sell his swag before driving him to buy heroin with the proceeds.
Working with Holyoke police, Dickinson said that he was able to secure and execute a search warrant for the store and seized wide variety of items believed to have been stolen.
Dickinson said that the detectives “found evidence of stolen items and drug dealing but we did not find evidence to support the breaks” but he said that may change.
The victims of numerous burglaries in the city have been asked to come to the station to attempt to identify property stolen from them but, on Thursday, Dickinson said that the only evidence identified so far was stolen from the residence in Holyoke identified as one of Moll’s targets.
The accomplice came back to speak with police again on Thursday and again detectives took him for a drive around the city to the sites of breaking and entering incidents.
Dickinson said that, on Thursday, the accomplice confessed to taking Moll to addresses which were burgled including two houses St. James Avenue, one on Southview Terrace, two on Apple Orchard Heights, a house on Valley View Drive and one on Northwest Road.
Dickinson said Thursday that he now believes that Moll may also be responsible for burglaries on Wyben Road, South Street, Russellville Road, Noble Avenue, Holland Avenue, Miller Street and North Road.
“He’s confessing to everything” Dickinson said of Moll’s accomplice.
Dickinson said that he is hopeful that, because of the extent of Moll’s alleged crimes, he will be indicted and tried in superior court where stiffer sentences are possible.
His accomplice however, because of his cooperation, may have his case heard in Westfield District Court.
Dickinson said that this case is an example of city police working together “like a well oiled machine” as officers drew together the tangled web of evidence and information to weave a unified case to end the series of burglaries in the city.

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