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Iced coffee lands thieves in hot water

  • Sgt Mark Williams with some of the mail boxes that were stolen over the weekend.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Sean Bittner<br/>submitted photo
  • Joshua Acus<br/>submitted photo

GREENFIELD — Two local teens’ sweet tooths led to their arrest for allegedly stealing 29 mailboxes and throwing them onto Interstate 91.

Old-fashioned police work, inter-agency cooperation and a receipt from a doughnut shop helped officers track down the two, who are charged with thefts in Greenfield and Deerfield, as well as vandalism in Greenfield.

Sean Bittner, 19, of 33 Laurel St., and Joshua Acus, 18, of 8 Webster Ave., pleaded innocent to 26 counts of larceny under $250, two counts of malicious destruction of property over $250, disorderly conduct and trespassing with a motor vehicle Tuesday in Greenfield District Court.

Their arrest was the culmination of an investigation by Greenfield, Deerfield and state police, and the keen eyes of their officers.

Under the bridge, among the mangled mailboxes, police found a receipt from the Federal Street Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through. Officers went to the coffee shop, wound its surveillance footage back to the time listed on the receipt and saw the suspects’ vehicle.

After the two were found, they admitted to stealing mailboxes in Greenfield and Deerfield, as well as smashing the windows of a backhoe parked near Deerfield Street, and the windows of the former Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, according to confessions written by Bittner and Acus and filed in court.

Just before 4 a.m. Monday, police responded to Interstate 91 overpass on Wisdom Way, for a report of objects being thrown from the bridge.

They turned out to be mailboxes, many of which had been flattened under passing cars. Nobody was hurt and no vehicles were damaged in the incident, according to Greenfield Police.

Bittner told police the two filled his Chevrolet Malibu with stolen mailboxes, threw them off the overpass, and went back to steal more and throw them off the bridge as well, according to officer Nathan Coffin.

Acus said that Bittner had been trying to hit large trucks on Interstate 91 with the mailboxes, and that the whole episode was Bittner’s idea, according to Coffin’s report.

Off-duty Greenfield officer Richard Brook noticed a car matching its description in the parking lot of Tractor Supply Co., where Bittner works, and the two were arrested shortly afterward.

Bittner told police that he and Acus stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for two iced coffees and some doughnuts before their spree of destruction, according to his statement. The plastic cups from their coffees were found near the vandalized backhoe.

In his confession, Bittner said he smashed one of the backhoe’s windows with a window-breaking tool on his pocket knife, because he wanted to see how well it worked, according to Coffin’s report. Then, Bittner wrote, Acus took the knife and smashed three more windows.

The mailboxes were stolen from Wisdom Way and Munson Street in Greenfield, and Upper and Lower roads in Deerfield, according to police reports. A pool ladder was also taken from Wisdom Way Self Storage, and left in the road.

Though tampering with mailboxes is a federal offense, Postal Inspector Bernadette Lundbohm said the post office will not pursue charges. Since the mailboxes were each valued at less than $250, their theft is a misdemeanor under state law.

Both Bittner and Acus were released on personal recognizance and set to return to court July 29 for a pretrial conference.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279 On Twitter, follow @RecorderRain

Perhaps the post office wouldn't consider it a misdemeanor if the thrown mailbox hit one of their many trucks using rt 91killing the driver and destroying the truck and the load of mail in it. Maybe these two boys would like to set an example for all the other wannabe troublemakers out there.

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