Some late night shopping in advance of the Black Friday has landed two Genesee County men behind bars and provided an unexpected bargain for police in solving a series of robberies.
Robert C. Grant, 52, of Pembroke, and Mark J. Maltese, 43, of Batavia, are not only charged with the burglary at the Rent-A-Center on the 4100 block of West Main Street Road in Batavia early Wednesday morning, but are believed to be responsible for a wave of armed robberies that started last week.
Batavia police officers and Genesee County deputies were so concerned about the late night robberies that they set up a special surveillance detail, but they ended up solving the crimes because of an alert citizen, Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said.
“The citizen is the one who got us the break,” Heubusch said. “That’s what we need, eyes and ears out there. We can’t be everywhere.”
Working a late night shift near the rental store, the citizen heard glass shattering at about 1 a.m. and saw two men removing a flat screen television and placing it into their vehicle.
“The citizen called 911 and started following in his car from a safe distance,” Heubusch said, while not releasing the name of the citizen.
The thieves drove about a mile to a house on Colonial Boulevard in the Town of Batavia and police and deputies arrived and started questioning individuals at the home.
Grant and Maltese soon confessed to the crime, the chief said, adding that the television, valued at about $1,000, was recovered.
Other evidence also found at the home resulted in the conclusion that the two men were involved in three area robberies, all of them occurring between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., Heubusch added.
The first was last Thursday at the Best Western near the New York State Thruway in the Town of Batavia; the second was Friday at the 7-11 store in the Village of Oakfield, and the third on Sunday at the Days Inn on Oak Street in the City of Batavia. Each time a man walked in and threatened workers with either a handgun or a long gun, the chief said.
Maltese and Grant are charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal mischief for the burglary. Maltese is expected to be charged in the robberies, while actions against Grant in the robberies, Heubusch said, are still under review.