New charges in Lyme’s serial burglaries

State police charged 21-year-old Karl W. Weissinger with two additional burglaries Friday as part of a continuing investigation into a series of thefts throughout the region of high-quality jewelry and other items.

The new cases involve a burglary on Mount Archer Road in Lyme on June 1, 2011, and a break-in on Brush Hill Road in Lyme this year on March 12.

Weissinger, who had posted $150,000 bond following his arrest last week, turned himself in to state police knowing they had new warrants for his arrest. According to court officials, he has been living at 151 Brush Hill Road, not far from the site of the March 12 burglary, and working at an office supply store in Old Saybrook.

At his arraignment today in New London Superior Court, Judge John J. Nazzaro set additional bonds totaling $50,000 on the new cases, specifying that Weissinger could be released if he posts 10 percent in cash. Nazzaro ordered that Weissinger, should he post the additional bonds, would have to wear a GPS tracking bracelet and to undergo intensive supervision by the Department of Adult Probation.

State police have been building their case against Weissinger and his older brother, 25-year-old Justin P. Weissinger, since Justin Weissinger was arrested on July 10 after a high-speed chase in Montville.

The police said they found a stolen handgun, illegal drugs and other items in the Subaru that Weissinger was driving. They also found one of the four Sentry safes they say was stolen from the Mount Archer Road burglary. Justin Weissinger remains incarcerated and is due back in court on Dec. 12, when state police say they will charge him with additional crimes.

In the Mount Archer Road case, the homeowner returned from out-of-state to discover the thieves had broken in, apparently through an upstairs window, according to an arrest warrant affidavit prepared by Trooper Christopher Reid. The homeowner reported that four safes containing pieces of jewelry had been taken from a bedroom, along with necklaces and rings from outside the safes. The items were valued at $59,985.

Among the most distinctive items stolen were 40 Victorian-era gold thimbles, according to the warrants. The state police recovered 18 of the gold thimbles, one of the four safes and other items worth an estimated $15,050 from Matthew Hopkins, owner of Goldsmiths & Silversmiths jewelry store in Mystic.

Hopkins has told police he had purchased about $100,000 worth of items from the two brothers, who had visited the store 15 to 25 times.

In the Brush Hill Road case, the homeowner returned from a vacation to find numerous items missing, including a silver tea set from the dining room and several pieces of valuable jewelry from the upstairs master bedroom. The estimated total value of the items taken was $33,390. A silver vase and a pair of men's designer cuff links valued at $6,000 were recovered from Hopkins.

At Weissinger's arraignment, defense attorney Jeremiah Donovan argued that Karl Weissinger, who has been charged in connection with six burglaries, is less culpable than his brother, a former Marine who had been convicted of committing burglaries while stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. Justin Weissinger also is a key witness in a home invasion/double murder case in California and could be returned to that state to testify in early 2013, officials said.

Though the state police allege they found Karl Weissinger in possession of stolen items, "There's no evidence to indicate this defendant actually did these burglaries," Donovan said.

He contended also that "the fence" in the case has a degree of culpability and has not been arrested. He was referring to Hopkins, the jewelry store owner, who told state police he had believed the brothers when they told him the items had come from storage unit auctions. Hopkins cooperated with the state police investigation, surrendering items identified as stolen and opening the store after hours so that burglary victims could look for their possessions.

"At this point, there is no separation as far as degree of culpability between the two defendants," prosecutor Michael E. Kennedy said of the Weissinger brothers.

As far as Hopkins is concerned, "There is a high degree of separation between the severity of the offenses between that individual and these two gentlemen," Kennedy said.

The investigation is continuing, he said.


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