JAMESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Three days after a string of home break-ins shook the quiet island town of Jamestown, Police Chief Edward Mello asked community members to lock their doors and report suspicious activity in an effort to prevent similar crimes.
Mello held a community forum at the Jamestown Public Library about the crime spree, which told place in the span of just one hour on Monday. Between 11 am and noon, the two suspects allegedly broke into six houses in town, about the same amount of total break-ins Jamestown saw in all of 2017.
“I call it the Island of Oz, it’s like it’s own little place,” said William Shall, who lives in Jamestown. “And this shakes a lot of people to the rafters.”
Mello said some of the victims had left their houses unlocked, making it easier for the suspects to enter quickly and grab stolen items before moving on to the next target.
“The reality if it’s easy to get in, it’s easier for them and it just makes you a more viable victim,” Mello said.
Multiple people at the meeting remarked at the choice by Thomas Pleau, 43 of Woonsocket, and John Young, 26 of Providence, to commit their alleged crime spree on an island with only two escape routes.
Mello described them as “not very sophisticated” and said there was no apparent connection between the men and the island.
“The cause of them committing these crimes is basically a drug addiction for both of them,” Mello told Eyewitness News.
He said police are now sorting through stolen items they recovered including cash and jewelry. Police are also investigating whether the men have been pawning stolen items to shops in the Providence and Woonsocket areas, and if any accomplices were involved in handling stolen property.
Pleau and Young are also suspects in break-ins in other towns including Newport, where they are facing charges, and Burrillville. Police are also investigating their possible connections to break-ins in the Blackstone Valley area of Massachusetts.
The Sutton, Massachusetts Police played a key role in capturing the suspects; detectives there placed a GPS device on the car that was ultimately used to capture them in Jamestown. Chief Mello said he and another officer pulled over the car that Young was driving, taking him into custody. They then chased Pleau on foot, calling in a State Police K-9 unit to assist in tracking him down.
Both men face six counts of breaking and entering and six counts of conspiracy in Jamestown. They were arraigned on Tuesday and bail was set at $70,000 with surety, but the men can’t pay the required $7,000 to be released quite yet. Both were on probation for previous crimes, and are being held behind bars pending hearings for their alleged probation violations.