ADDISON — Vermont State Police have collared a man they believe might be responsible for dozens of burglaries that have occurred in Addison County since the beginning of this year.
Raymond Ritchie, 37, of Addison pleaded not guilty in Addison County Superior Court on Thursday, Aug. 1, to three counts each of unlawful trespass into an occupied residence and possession of stolen property. But based on what state police said were “thousands” of suspected stolen items recovered during a search of Ritchie’s property at 151 Algonquin Drive, authorities believe Ritchie could be linked to many more of the 103 burglaries that have been reported in Addison County so far this year.
If convicted of the crimes for which he has been charged, Ritchie could spend the rest of his life in jail, according to Addison County Deputy State’s Attorney Chris Perkett. That’s because Ritchie already has a lengthy rap sheet featuring 10 past felony convictions for such offenses as burglary, aggravated assault on a police officer, retail theft, aggravated domestic assault and obstructing justice.
“When you have three or more felony convictions, the state’s attorney can use his or her discretion to enhance the penalty,” Perkett said on Thursday, after Ritchie’s arraignment. “It allows for a penalty of life.”
Multiple attempts to reach Lt. Gary Genova, head of the New Haven state police barracks, and Lt. Kevin Lane, C Troop Bureau of Criminal Investigation, were unsuccessful as the Addison Independent went to press on Friday.
But a court affidavit prepared by investigating VSP Det. Sgt. Robert Patten details the case against Ritchie, who was ordered held on $100,000 bail after his arraignment.
Patten said it was in late July that New York State Police sought assistance from the VSP in obtaining a photo of Ritchie, whom they suspected in two home break-ins in Crown Point, N.Y. In one of those cases, a man fitting Ritchie’s description tried to open a Crown Point resident’s door and, when confronted, alleged he was “seeking permission to hunt behind the home and to put rabbit traps out.”
VSP reviewed the burglaries in Addison County and found a similar theme of entry and attempted entry by a person fitting a similar description and rabbit trap story, according to Patten. Such incidents had occurred at homes in Middlebury, Cornwall and Shoreham, the affidavit states. Those victims subsequently pointed out Ritchie in a photo lineup presented by VSP, Patten said.
Witnesses also told police that the man in question was driving a “hatchback-type car.”
The case came into further focus on July 31, when state police were went to Ritche’s home to investigate a reported domestic dispute between himself and his partner, whom state police identified as Nicole Burgos, 29. During the course of this investigation, VSP Trooper Justin Busby spied three Nascar die cast model cars on a bureau, according to the affidavit. Three Nascar model cars were reported stolen from a Shoreham home on July 24, police said.
VSP arrested Ritchie on July 31 on the unlawful trespass and possession of stolen property allegations. Later that day, VSP executed a search warrant for the Ritchie/Burgos property. During that search, police found “numerous stolen items” within a gold-colored Subaru that Ritchie had allegedly been driving, the affidavit states. The vehicle is co-registered to Burgos. Recovered stolen items included baseball and Dale Earnhardt memorabilia taken during some reported burglaries in Shoreham on July 24. Authorities also found jewelry beneath the passenger’s seat of the car, including a 2006 Vergennes Union High School ring that had been reported stolen from a Panton residence, according to court records.
Police also reported finding multiple safes that had been forcibly opened.
“The safes, along with a large amount of jewelry and jewelry boxes, were found to have been burned in a burn pile as well as burn barrels,” the affidavit states. Authorities found “more jewelry and jewelry boxes” burned within a woodstove, according to court records
“It’s evident from the on-scene investigation that an attempted destruction of property/evidence has taken place,” the affidavit states. “Information from VSP personnel indicates that amongst the property stolen in the numerous Addison County-wide burglaries have been safes, silverware, keys, and foreign currency and coins.”
State police have not booked Burgos in connection with the burglaries, but they have charged her for one count of felony cultivation of marijuana, in connection with eight plants found on the property. She is scheduled to be arraigned at the Addison County Courthouse on Aug. 26 to answer to that charge.
In a follow up phone conversation, Patten said that the some of the property they found at Ritchie’s home apparently has come from beyond Addison County. Some of the items have been identified as coming from a burglary in Brandon, and others from a Sudbury burglary, Patten said.
Police said their investigation is on-going and the recovered items are being documented and prepared to be viewed by the victims. They are checking records from burglaries in Rutland and Chittenden counties, as well as in Addison. Troopers will be in contact with the victims.
Police urge residents to continue to be vigilant, take measures to deter burglars and report suspicious activity.
“The reality is that what is driving this (rash of burglaries) is the drug problem,” Patten said.
Lorraine Franklin, until recently the co-owner of the West Addison General Store (which was burglarized earlier this year), hailed the arrest of Ritchie. She said she’s also grateful to the people who submitted tips that helped the VSP make the arrest.
“We’re elated,” she said, adding she hopes Ritchie is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. “This has been a very long time that our community has been terrorized by this person.”
Reporter John Flowers is at firstname.lastname@example.org.