Watch CBS News

Burglars lit fires at PSEG substations to distract first responders before breaking into businesses, police say

2 arrested after allegedly burglarizing Long Island businesses
2 arrested after allegedly burglarizing Long Island businesses 02:12

CENTEREACH, N.Y. -- Two Long Island men are behind bars, charged with going to great lengths to smash their way into nearby businesses and make off with ATMs.

The suspects cased PSEG substations across Long Island, say investigators, and attempted to set them on fire to distract first responders, so that the accused could smash their way into Suffolk County businesses to steal ATMs.

Police say the two men used a brick to burglarize Talwindel Sukha's Ridge business.

"Very bad," he said. "I look, same thing, broken door, ATM machine no have there."

The crooks made off with an ATM filled with nearly $1,000. The alleged caper masterminds were arrested and are in the Suffolk County Jail, having not made bail.

"It was a very dangerous situation," said Trial Division Chief James Chalifoux, from the Suffolk County district attorney's office. "Setting fire at these substations in an attempt to out the electricity in the area really put a lot of people at risk -- not only the residents who maybe were using that electricity for life-saving measures at home, but first responders "

Nine burglaries took place over the past six months at delis, laundromats and gas stations across Suffolk County.

Police say the brazen thieves caught on various surveillance cameras are identified as 54-year-old Frank Costa, from Port Jefferson Station, and 29-year-old Jon Pucci, of Middle Island. Costa's attorney did not return our calls. Pucci's lawyer says he defers to judicial process.

Both pled not guilty.

The defendants are accused of lighting three distraction fires at PSEG substations and, say police, were picked up in Centereach with the stolen ATM and its cash.

LIPA and PSEG say the suspects were unsuccessful in their attempts to cause outages at their various properties and that the utilities have bolstered security measures as a result.

The Suffolk DA says the motive was "sheer greed." Both defendants will appear again before a judge in less than three weeks.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.