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SUSPECT NABBED IN THEFT OF $480,000 IN HAMBURG

A man accused of stealing $480,000 from a Town of Hamburg home two months ago was escorted back to town Friday from from Naugatuck, Conn.

Ricky Bob John, 26, of Garden City, Mich., was charged with felony counts of burglary and grand larceny. He was sent to the Erie County Holding Center in lieu of $500,000 cash bail after appearing before Hamburg Town Justice Gerald Gorman.

Town of Hamburg police Capt. Thomas M. Best, chief of detectives, declined to detail the path that led investigators to John in Connecticut but attributed the arrest to evidence recovered at the scene.

"Let's just say it was good police work," Best said.

A 78-year-old widow reported that a man stopped by her Rogers Road home the afternoon of July 1 and told her she got a "bum job" when her driveway was paved several years ago. As they discussed the driveway, the suspect walked toward the back of her house, asking to see her garden.

About two hours later, after the woman awoke from a nap, she noticed scratch marks on the floor where a small safe was dragged from her bedroom closet. The safe, about two feet cubed and weighing about 100 pounds, contained a diamond ring and nearly half a million dollars cash, police said.

Hamburg police launched an exhaustive investigation that included appealing to the public for help through a Crime Stoppers bulletin.

About a month ago, police recovered the empty safe on a dirt road in Freedom. Police have not yet recovered any of the stolen money, but Best said he is hopeful that they might soon.

John, who is described by police as a gypsy, recently was arrested in Connecticut on unrelated charges, Best said.

"We do anticipate more charges and possibly more arrests, of accomplices or of other burglaries in the area," Best said.

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