NORTHPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A mother and son are facing grand larceny charges in connection with a string of drug store thefts in Suffolk County, police say.
Antoinette Russo, 34; her 20-year-old son, Michael Russo; and Dean Balsamo, all of Patchogue, are accused of stealing more than $6,000 in merchandise from several CVS and Rite Aid locations in Northport, according to police.
On April 26, the suspects allegedly stole $1,300 in merchandise from a CVS at 735 Fort Salonga Road. The suspects struck again April 28 — this time taking around $2,816 worth of goods from a Rite Aid at 395 Fort Salonga Road, police said.
On May 7, the suspects hit the two prior locations again, taking around $2,600 in total merchandise, police said.
In each case, the Russos would allegedly enter the store and intentionally trigger the location’s alarm system by carrying in a previously stolen item, police said. The suspects would then allegedly fill a duffel bad with pricey face creams, vitamins and pregnancy tests, pay for one small item and leave, leading workers to believe the anti-theft alarm went off in error a second time upon their departure.
Antoniette and Michael Russo were arrested May 11, after Northport police spotted the duo exiting a Northport CVS with around $887.44 in stolen goods. Balsamo, a family friend who allegedly acted as a getaway driver, was also taken into custody.
“They made statements that they were doing this up to four times a day at different stores throughout Suffolk,” Northport Village police Chief Bill Ricca told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
There was no answer at the Patchogue apartment the Russos share. But in the subsidized complex, neighbors say drug use is rampant.
“In my apartment, the crack smell comes right in my window,” one woman said. “I have to keep my window shut.”
Police say the Russos sold the stolen good to pawn shops. They are suspected in 20 cases and they’re investigating as many as 100. Across Suffolk County, are urging merchants missing expensive inventory to go back and check surveillance video.