Man arrested in Old Saybrook gun shop thefts

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Old Saybrook — Police arrested an Old Saybrook man Tuesday on charges he stole 13 handguns and three high-powered rifles from the Grouse Perch, a gun shop located at 15 North St.

Thomas Russo, 25, of 79 Fenwood Drive was arrested following what police described as an hours-long standoff at an Old Saybrook residence. Police said they recovered numerous firearms and heroin from inside the home.

Russo was charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree larceny, first-degree criminal mischief, 16 counts of criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and 16 counts of theft of a firearm.

Court records show Russo was convicted in 2013 of carrying a pistol without a permit and first-degree reckless endangerment. He received a fully suspended sentence and three years of probation.

Tuesday’s crime was first reported at about 10:26 a.m., when the business owner realized his store had been burglarized. Police said burglars entered the store by breaking a front window. Old Saybrook police responded and seized physical evidence from inside the gun shop.

“I am very proud of the men and women of our department,” said Police Chief Michael A. Spera in a statement. “They worked tirelessly today to ensure the safety of our community by getting stolen guns off our streets.”

Spera said the investigation is ongoing with assistance from agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Additional arrests are possible, Spera said.

Held in lieu of a $750,000 bond, Russo is due to appear Thursday in Middletown Superior Court.

Anyone with information concerning the stolen weapons is encouraged to contact Old Saybrook police at (860) 395-3142.

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