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Burglary suspects mum as police continue to sort loot

Montville - In a jail cell in Leominster, Mass., the alleged masterminds of a three-year string of burglaries up and down the Interstate 95 corridor between New York and Rhode Island are refusing to speak to investigators.

With the two men's silence, police here are left with only guesses at the reasons for and the stories behind the million dollars' worth of stolen goods they say Mark Missino and Bernard McAllister stashed in a self-storage unit in East Lyme.

Police estimate they found 100,000 pieces of evidence in the unit. At about 11 a.m. Tuesday, they had catalogued No. 692, requiring Connecticut State Police Sgt. Wilfred Blanchette III to modify last week's estimate that it would take several weeks or more to sort and catalogue everything.

"I'd say probably early February at least," Blanchette said Tuesday morning.

Missino and McAllister, being held on fugitive from justice charges in Massachusetts, were caught by Massachussetts State Police last Thursday night in a hotel in Leominster, Mass.

The volume and type of items discovered in East Lyme have surprised and befuddled even police force veterans.

"It's everything," Blanchette said. "It was kind of indiscriminate looting."

A large bottle of Pucker, an inexpensive sour-apple schnapps, was photographed and assigned an evidence tag Tuesday morning. Same for the bottles of red wine and the cameras and lenses. Police estimate the value for each item, assign a description and note the serial number if one is available.

Inside the box truck, where bankers' boxes line the sides from floor to ceiling, one box was labeled "underwear." Police found new and used women's underwear, but no men's boxers or briefs.

Another box was labeled "pillowcases." The alleged burglars would grab pillowcases at the houses and fill them with stolen goods. It's still unclear why they kept the pillowcases.

"There have been several things that have surprised me," Blanchette said. "It's not things that … we normally see taken in burglaries. Normally it's the jewelry, the quick items. (Here) we've recovered packets of new pantyhose, new socks, different (items)."

Police spread out 20 or more wallets on a folding table. A few still had price tags attached. Most looked cheap, including one that looked like the back pocket of a pair of jeans.

Inside an evidence cage sat what is perhaps the ultimate bizarre stolen item in this case: "Jingle Jugs," a plastic set of singing and dancing women's breasts.

On a nearby folding table, East Lyme Police Officer Joe San Juan reached deep into a banker's box filled with watches and scooped out a pile. San Juan and fellow East Lyme Officer Dana Jezierski sorted the watches into evidence bags.

A camera and lenses worth a couple of thousand dollars and belonging to a professional photographer in Chester - his name and address were on the bag - prompted Blanchette to explain that police will have an extra step when identifying victims. If people have already been reimbursed by their insurance company, he said, the insurance company instead might be the victim.

Missino and McAllister face a growing number of charges in Connecticut. Police announced last week that the pair would be charged with first-degree larceny and that they expected the list to grow.

By Tuesday, Stamford police had prepared arrest warrants charging Missino and McAllister with two counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree larceny and two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny.

Stamford Police Sgt. Andrew Gallagher said Tuesday that police there think the pair are linked to as many as 20 burglaries in Stamford over the past two to two and a half years. Gallagher said Stamford police drove to the Montville barracks and identified items that were taken during an overnight burglary spree in Stamford on Nov. 13 and 14.

k.crompton@theday.com

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