Technology, fast-food bag help lead police to Belchertown suspect in Franklin County house breaks

Sunday, August 24, 2014
DEERFIELD — A fast-food bag, a change machine and the use of GPS technology helped lead Deerfield Police to a Belchertown man who allegedly broke into a Pine Nook Road home on July 30 and stole expensive items.

Tyrone G. Ulmer, 43, has been charged with a felony count of breaking and entering during the daytime, five counts of larceny over $250, two counts of larceny under $250, and one count of vandalizing property.

Ulmer was also charged with two felony counts of breaking and entering during the daytime, two counts of larceny, and larceny of a credit card by New Salem Police for allegedly breaking into two homes in that town.

About $3,000 worth of property police say Ulmer stole has been recovered from pawn shops in Springfield, and two stolen wedding rings were found in his car, police said.

Police said Deerfield Chief John Paciorek Jr. and Officer Gary Sibilia responded the reported break at the Pine Nook residence, and the victim was able to track her stolen iPad on her cell phone. Paciorek used the phone to guide Officer Adam Sokoloski to the parking lot of the Stop & Shop on Route 9 in Hadley.

Once he arrived at the store, Sokoloski was joined by officers from the Amherst and Hadley police departments. Paciorek told them the iPad was still in the parking lot, but the officers did not have probable cause to search any of the vehicles, police said.

Instead, Sokoloski photographed each of the vehicles in the area, hoping that would prove useful as the investigation unfolded.

Paciorek told Sokoloski that the iPad had been moved to the area of Home Depot and McDonald’s on Route 9, and Hadley police left to pursue that lead. Meanwhile, Sokoloski entered the Stop & Shop and asked to see the surveillance footage of the parking lot. He also requested footage of the store’s CoinStar coin counting machine, because change had been stolen from the house.

The next day, the store manager called Sokoloski to report that an employee had seen a man turn in about $600 worth of change. Later that day, the victim told Deerfield police that her phone had tracked her MacBook Pro to an apartment block in Holyoke.

On Aug. 5, Sokoloski was able to view the Stop & Shop surveillance footage, which he said showed Ulmer getting out of a car with a cart full of change and entering the store to turn it in. Sokoloski was able to use the footage and the photographs he had taken to get the car’s license plate number, which identified Ulmer as the owner. His Registry of Motor Vehicles photo further identified him as the person who had turned in the change, police said.

Additionally, Sokoloski said, the vehicle was similar to one that the New Salem Police Department had sought in connection with house breaks there. Sokoloski and a New Salem officer compared pictures and determined that it was the same car.

Police determined that Ulmer had been arrested July 30 on a warrant by Massachusetts State Police and was being held at the Hampden County House of Correction, and that his car had been towed by CJ’s Towing of Springfield.

On Aug. 6, Sokoloski retrieved the surveillance footage from the Route 9 McDonald’s and upon inspecting Ulmer’s car at the towing company’s facility, found a change jar and a McDonald’s bag.

Sokoloski reported that later that day he interviewed Ulmer, who confessed to the break-ins and said he had traded the laptop and iPad for heroin in Holyoke. He also admitted to breaking into houses every few days to fuel his drug addiction, according to Sokoloski.

Ulmer gave Sokoloski written permission to search his car and retrieve two wedding bands that he had stolen. The owners had planned on getting married the weekend of the break-in, and the rings were returned to them.