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De-tech-tive work pays off after robberies

GPS tracking clues lead to housebreak arrest

DEERFIELD — A fast food bag, a change machine and the innovative use of GPS technology has helped the Deerfield Police Department catch a man they allege broke into a Pine Nook Road home on July 30 and stole several expensive items.

Tyrone G. Ulmer, 43, of Belchertown, has been charged with a felony count of breaking and entering during the daytime, five counts of larceny over $250, two counts of larceny under $250, and one count of vandalizing property.

New Salem police have also charged him in connection with house breaks in their town.

About $3,000 worth of property police say Ulmer stole has been recovered from pawn shops in Springfield.

According to a police report, Deerfield Police Chief John Paciorek Jr. and Officer Gary Sibilia responded to reports of a break at the Pine Nook residence, and the victim was able to track her stolen iPad on her cell phone. Paciorek used the phone to guide Officer Adam Sokolosi to the parking lot of the Stop & Shop on Route 9 in Hadley.

Once he arrived at the store, Sokoloski was joined by officers from the Amherst and Hadley police departments. Paciorek told them the iPad was still located in the parking lot, but the officers did not have probable cause to search any of the vehicles, wrote Sokoloski.

Instead, Sokoloski photographed each of the vehicles in the area, hoping to use it in conjunction with other evidence that would turn up in the future.

Paciorek told Sokoloski that the iPad had moved to the area of Home Depot and McDonald’s on Route 9, and Hadley police left to pursue that lead. Meanwhile, Sokoloski entered the Stop & Shop and asked to see the surveillance footage of the parking lot. He also requested footage of the store’s CoinStar coin counting machine, because change had been stolen from the house.

The next day, the store manager called Sokoloski to report that an employee had seen a man turn in about $600 worth of change. Later that day, wrote Sokoloski, the victim told Deerfield police that her phone had tracked her MacBook Pro to an apartment block in Holyoke.

On Aug. 5, Sokoloski was able to view the Stop & Shop surveillance footage, which he said showed Ulmer getting out of a car with a cart full of change and entering the store to turn it in. Sokoloski was able to use the footage and the photographs he had taken to get the car’s license plate number, which identified Ulmer as the owner. His Registry of Motor Vehicles photo further identified him as the person who had turned in the change, police allege.

Additionally, Sokoloski said, the vehicle was similar to one that the New Salem Police Department had released in connection with their own break-in investigation. Sokoloski and a New Salem officer compared pictures and determined that it was the same car.

When Sokoloski reviewed Ulmer’s record at the station, he found that Ulmer had already been arrested July 30 on a warrant by the Massachusetts State Police and was being held at the Hampden County House of Correction. When he contacted the State Police, he was told that Ulmer’s car had been towed by CJ’s Towing of Springfield.

On Aug. 6, Sokoloski retrieved the surveillance footage from the Route 9 McDonald’s and inspected the car at the towing company’s facility, in which he found a change jar and a McDonald’s bag.

Later that day, Sokoloski said, he interviewed Ulmer, who confessed to the break-ins and said he had traded the laptop and iPad for heroin in Holyoke. He also admitted to breaking into houses every few days to fuel his drug addiction, Sokoloski wrote.

Upon Sokoloski’s request, Ulmer gave him written permission to search his car and retrieve two wedding bands that he had stolen. The owners had planned on getting married the weekend of the break-in, and the rings were returned to them.

Ulmer was also charged with two felony counts of breaking and entering during the daytime, two counts of larceny, and larceny of a credit card by the New Salem Police Department for allegedly breaking into two homes in that town.

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