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Hilltowns Archives —The Altamont Enterprise, January 15, 2009

Pair suspected of 40 burglaries

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

Two Rensselaer men were caught inside a Berne home last Thursday in the midst of a burglary, police say, and they are suspected of upwards of 40 burglaries throughout three counties.

Police are hoping that homeowners approached by the pair will call, thereby expanding the investigation.

Jerry A. Tenney, 27, and Matthew R. Hallenbeck, 19, were arrested on Jan. 8, each charged with three felonies — second-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief, and fourth-degree grand larceny.

“They were inside the house,” said J. T. Campbell, an investigator with the Albany County Sheriff’s Department; the house was on Suto Road in Berne.

The men, who were under police surveillance, unwittingly led officers to the Suto Road home, where, police say, they forced entry before officers closed in. Hallenbeck surrendered, police say, while Tenney ran away but he was taken into custody a short distance away.

They were arraigned that night, Jan. 8, in New Scotland Town Court by Judge Margaret Adkins and are in Albany County’s jail, Campbell said on Tuesday.

Asked why the pair was under surveillance, Campbell said, “Information was developed between several police agencies.” He declined to elaborate further.

The agencies investigating the home burglaries in Albany, Rensselaer, and Greene counties included the State Police Special Investigations Unit; the State Police from Schodack, New Scotland, and Catskill; Bethlehem Police, Schodack Police, East Greenbush Police, Coeymans Police, Rensselaaer Police, and Albany Police.

The investigation began several weeks ago after a high number of burglaries were reported over the past few months.

The burglaries were all similar, Campbell said, because they occurred during the daytime in rural areas and the items stolen included electronics, jewelry, change, and currency. They were also linked because the method of entry and tools used to break into the homes were similar.

“What these guys would do,” Campbell said, “is they’d knock on doors and, if somebody answered, then they would ask for directions, like to a major road, or ask them if they needed their driveway shoveled or wanted some yard work done or things like that.

“We’d be interested to talk to anybody that they did that to,” said Campbell, “because it puts them in some areas we might not know about.” He urged anyone who had an experience like that to call the sheriff’s office at 765-2351.

After the arrest, officers, with warrants, searched Tenney’s and Hallenbeck’s Rensselaer apartments and the vehicle that they drove to Suto Road, the sheriff’s department said. Several stolen items, including electronic equipment and jewelry, were found in Tenney’s apartment, the sheriff’s department said, and burglar tools were found in the vehicle, which are expected to match evidence left behind at numerous burglaries.

Most of the stolen goods were pawned or sold, police said.

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