Published May 23. 2014 4:00AM
A 43-year-old man who broke into three New London businesses and committed two armed robberies during a four-day crime spree in October 2013 was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison followed by four years of special parole.
Eduardo Torres of New London had pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree robbery. Torres has a lengthy criminal history that has been fueled by drugs, according to the state.
"Mr. Torres is someone who has suffered from a substance abuse problem since before he was an adolescent and it has kind of short-circuited his whole life," said prosecutor Lawrence J. Tytla.
According to New London Police, Torres broke into the Golden Wok restaurant on Colman Street on Oct. 18 by throwing an object through the side door. He took a money jar from the counter and returned some time later and stole $400 to $500 in cash from the register. The same day, he threw a rock through a window at Lombardi Tire on Broad Street and pilfered at laptop computer valued at $600.
The next day, Torres attempted to rob the Honey Plus convenience store on State Street. He wielded a screwdriver and struck the clerk several times but did not get any money. On Oct. 20, 2013, Torres returned to the Golden Wok wearing a black ski mask and demanded money. When the employees refused, he took a tip jar from the counter and fled as one worker threw hot cooking oil on him. He targeted the Terrace Bakery on Jefferson Avenue the next day, smashing through a glass panel to gain entry and stealing $125, a laptop computer and a flat-screen TV. He returned to the Golden Wok once more but was unable to smash the window.
Patrolman Todd Lynch viewed surveillance video from one of the crimes and recognized Torres, according to a court document. The police confronted Torres, and he admitted to the crimes, saying he had been having a rough time and was using heroin and crack cocaine. Following his arrest, Torres' father reported Torres had stolen $3,500 in checks from him.
In court Thursday, Torres said he has 15 grandchildren and doesn't want them to see him in prison. He said he has asked the court several times for help with his drug problem "and they always say, 'Go to jail. Go to jail.' ''
Judge Hillary B. Strackbein told Torres he could have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison for his crimes and he was lucky that attorney Peter E. Scillieri had got him a good deal. Strackbein ordered Torres to repay his father while on parole.