ALBANY -- In a new edition of "The Dumbest Burglars in Albany," criminals smashed power boxes Thursday at convenience stores, Water, Gas & Light Commission officials said.
"These have to be the dumbest burglars ever. While trying to disable the security system by breaking the electric meters, they set off the alarms that bring the police," said Lorie Farkas, commission assistant general manager.
"Not only is it against the law," Farkas added, "it is extremely dangerous. They could get electrocuted and die."
Albany Police Department officers responded to at least three alarms where criminals broke convenience stores' electric meters on Thursday morning, said Phyllis Banks, police spokeswoman.
"They did not gain entry to any of the stores. Nothing was stolen. They threw a brick or rock through the door or a window at each store," Banks said. "The alarms went off and Albany police responded. They stole nothing. All they did was wreak a lot of havoc."
The attempted break-ins were in the same area, one after another, Banks said. At 1:28 a.m. an Enmark store at 2424 Clark St. was hit. At 5:16 a.m., the Stop N Shop at 1117 Clark St. was damaged. At 6:24 a.m. the Enmark store at 2700 Sylvester Road lost power after its meter box was smashed.
The utility sent crews to repair what police reports called nearly $3,000 in damage to the electric boxes. That cost made the crimes felonies.
"So far, we have nothing yet to suspect they are gang-related," Banks said. "But they are under investigation and we are not ruling it out."
Banks said investigators also did not rule out the possibility that a 2 a.m. Thursday car theft from Smart Cars on the 2200 block of North Slappey Boulevard was related.
Three thieves broke the electric box at the car dealer, stole a 1999 white Acura and ran the car into a dirt mound off Acker Avenue. Officers caught 18-year-old Michael Brown as he ran from the car. Two other suspects got away.
Friday's surveillance tapes from the convenience stores and a 2305 N. Slappey Blvd. motorcycle shop show two men breaking electric boxes.
Reports on the damage, the shop's name and the attempted break-in at the motorcycle shop were not immediately available. Banks said, however, that the damage at the shop fits the pattern.
The video from the Stop N Shop shows two 15- to 25-year-old black males, one without a shirt. He was wearing white shoes, khaki shorts and a dark rag around his neck.
Anyone with additional information should call Crime Stoppers at (229) 436-TIPS (8477) or investigations at (229) 431-3288. The Spanish speaking APD-COP Tip Line is (229) 434-2677.
Crime Stoppers is an anonymous tipline. People with information could become eligible for cash rewards.