NORWALK, Conn. – A high-stakes purse snatching on steroids fell apart thanks to a high-tech device and a trio of non-tech-savvy thieves, according to a court affidavit. Now, one of the men suspected in the heist-gone-bad is accused of threatening a Norwalk police officer’s mother – to another Norwalk police officer.
Tomas Morel, 45, made the threat while in Norwalk Police lockup, Sgt. Lisa Cotto said, after being arrested Thursday for first degree larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny along with Vincente Morel, 44, and Carlos Guillen, 39, of 6 Winfield St., Norwalk.
The men are accused of stealing more than $80,000 worth of merchandise – mostly handbags – from the Dooney & Bourke factory in Norwalk, police said. The thefts took place Oct. 11, 2012, and in December 2011, police said.
The suspected larcenies were reported to police by Philip Kinsley, vice president of finance for Dooney & Bourke Inc. Kinsley said that, on Oct. 11, a skid containing 17 cartons of merchandise was loaded onto a truck to be taken to Orange, the affidavit says.
The merchandise was not delivered and was not in the truck when it got back. Missing were 159 handbags that would sell retail for $253 each and 104 leather items that would sell for $105 each, totaling $51,314 in merchandise, the affidavit says.
The truck, equipped with a GPS system, was driven by Tomas Morel, according to the affidavit at Norwalk Superior Court, and left an electronic trail of suspicious activity.
Kinsley provided GPS records that show the truck stopping at the Fairfield rest area on I-95 half an hour after it left at 8:02 a.m., and staying 15 minutes. It got off the highway in Stratford and went back an exit before turning around and heading north. It sat for 15 minutes at a rest area in Milford, between exits 40 and 41, the affidavit says.
Tomas then did his company’s bidding, stopping at the Orange post office to pick up returned merchandise and going to the warehouse, the affidavit says. But on the way back, Tomas Morel stopped in the Milford rest area, the affidavit says. The truck stayed there for an hour.
The men are also suspected of another larceny in December 2011.
Richley provided surveillance video that shows the three suspects loading 13 open cartons of handbags into a van, the affidavit says. The suspects indicated they were going to New York, but returned 45 minutes later with an empty truck, the affidavit says. There was no authorized trip to New York that month and open cartons are not authorized to leave the building, the affidavit says.
Richley estimated there were 10 bags in each carton, meaning a loss for the company in excess of $32,500, the affidavit says.
Cotto said that, while being processed Thursday in Norwalk, Tomas Morel asked a police officer, “Does your mother work at Dooney & Bourke?” Told no, Morel replied, “It must be that other officer. Tell him that we will be seeing his mother real soon.”
The suspects laughed and spoke to each other in Spanish, Cotto said. Officers took that as a threat, applied for a warrant and arrested Tomas Morel again Friday night at Bridgeport Correctional Center, Cotto said.
Tomas and Vincente Morel and Guillen were charged with multiple counts of larceny first degree and held on $100,000 bond, which was dropped to $50,000 bond in court. Tomas Morel was also charged with threatening second degree and held on $50,000 bond.
Norwalk police arrest logs say Tomas Morel lives at 493 Park St. in Bridgeport, but the affidavit says he lives at 49 Meadow St., Norwalk.
Norwalk police arrest logs say Vincente Morel lives at 491 Park St., Norwalk.