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News roundup: Teen takes landscaper’s truck for wild joyride
Jill Odom | August 24, 2017
police cars blocking traffic

Photo: Pixabay

A 17-year-old Ridgefield resident was arrested for being involved in two hit-and-runs after stealing a local landscaping company’s truck.

According to , Danbury, Connecticut, police alerted Andy Stewart Landscape Design that their truck had been stolen after ing the business owner to ask about a hit-and-run that allegedly involved one of his vehicles.

A search of the landscaping company’s parking lot revealed that the 2013 Chevy Silverado with the business logo on the side was indeed missing. Police also found that four other company trucks had been illegally entered and moved and resulted in some of the trucks and other equipment being damaged.

The Danbury police had tried to pursue the truck after it fled the scene of a two-car accident around 2:50 a.m. on Aug. 16. The chase was eventually called off as the driver continued to increase his speed and police deemed it too dangerous to continue.

While they were investigating the scene of the alleged theft at Andy Stewart Landscape Design, police received a report of another hit-and-run accident this time in Wilton around 6 a.m.

The victim of the hit-and-run told police that a truck fitting the description of the stolen vehicle and sporting heavy front-end damage, collided head-on with their car when it attempted a left-hand turn out of a gas station.

The teenager driving the stolen truck quickly reversed and sped away. Based on eyewitness reports, Wilton police found the joyrider, and when he failed to acknowledge police sirens and pull over, they utilized spike strips to stop the truck.

The unidentified teen was unharmed and surrendered to the police. He is currently charged with first-degree larceny, five counts of third-degree burglary, four counts of criminal mischief, engaging police in a pursuit, evading responsibility, reckless driving, driving without a license and failure to grant right of way at a private driveway.
The teenager will be judged for his more serious crimes in juvenile court, where he will be tried as an adult for the vehicle infractions.

Fake landscaper arrested for ruse burglary

Sandy Baker, a 42-year-old from Chicago was arrested on Thursday for felony burglary and theft charges after allegedly carrying out two burglaries posing as a landscaper.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Warrants Team, the Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force of the US Marshals, the Northern Regional Major Crimes Task Force and detectives from the Illinois State Police Ruse Burglary Task Force worked to apprehend Baker.

Sandy Baker mugshot

Sandy Baker
Photo: Lake County Sheriff’s Office

It is claimed that Baker along with one or more accomplices pretended to be landscapers to lure homeowners outside. Baker is said to have robbed a house on June 20 in Long Grove, Illinois and on June 27 in Deerfield, Illinois.

Baker used the technique of a ruse burglary that involves a team of thieves who impersonate landscapers in order to distract and draw the owner out of their home. Once they have left their house, the accomplices sneak inside and steal whatever small, easily transportable valuables they have, including cash and jewelry. Ruse burglars tend to target senior citizens.

“Please remind your loved ones and neighbors of this type of crime,” Sheriff Mark Curran told . “Ruse burglars appear polite and are usually well dressed, which is part of their ruse. If you didn’t make a service appointment or invite someone to your home, never let an unknown, uninvited person inside, and don’t exit your house to speak to the person.”

Baker has been charged with two counts residential burglary and two counts of theft. He is currently being held at Lake County Jail on a $200,000 bond.

New Jersey town contemplates landscaper registry

In Carlstadt, New Jersey, a zoning official is trying to have landscapers register with the town before they can mow grass or trim bushes on private property.

“This would allow us to address the issues of landscapers not cleaning up after their work,” Bruce Young, deputy zoning official, told . “It’s a big problem when landscapers blow grass into the street. The clippings end up in catch basins and our street sweeper. When these companies have no address listed we don’t know where to send a warning letter or a summons. It’s unfair because then we have to go after the homeowner (for littering).”

Carlstadt’s definition of littering includes grass clippings or other garden wastes and homeowners get three warnings before they are fined.

As of right now the state Division of Consumer Affairs only requires landscaping companies that install flowers, shrubs, trees or lay sod to register with the state. Of the 40 landscaping businesses in Carlstadt, only one is currently required to register with the state.

“We don’t want to punish anybody but I want to read some landscapers the riot act, give them the information we need to about cleaning up after their work,” Young told NorthJersey.com. “If they don’t abide by it, they’ll eventually get a summons. This morning I sent another homeowner a first warning letter over it.”

Just this summer alone around 60 warning letters were sent to homeowners and two were fined $100 due to landscapers blowing grass clippings on to public property.

The mayor and city council will discuss Young’s suggestion at their next meeting.

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