Law enforcement officers credit "good old-fashioned police work" for the arrest of two men charged with a string of burglaries in Hamburg.
Events leading to the arrests actually began in West Seneca, where, early Jan. 21, police discovered a broken window and two sets of footprints in the snow at an Aldi store on Ridge Road.
"They followed them for probably more than a quarter mile," West Seneca Police Capt. Michael Boehringer said.
That led to a vehicle outside another store that was open at the time and to George Tefft, 21, of Cheektowaga, and Adam Fruchtel, 24, of Derby. The two were arrested on attempted burglary charges, but that wasn't the end of it.
West Seneca Detective Lt. David Dudziak recalled a similar string of burglaries in Hamburg, a link made through the Mutual Aid Group, consisting of local police agencies and businesses that share information on recent crimes.
After Dudziak alerted Hamburg police to the West Seneca case, "one thing led to another," Hamburg Capt. Kevin Trask said.
In examining the men's car, Hamburg police said they found evidence linking the two to a burglary at Wild Birds Unlimited on McKinley Parkway, where binoculars had been taken. They also recovered a safe stolen during a burglary at BW's Barbecue on Lake Avenue.
Tefft and Fruchtel were charged with numerous burglaries, larcenies and criminal mischiefs in nine separate incidents in Hamburg.
Trask said linking the burglaries took time because they occurred over a six-month period. They included an August break-in at the Warehouse restaurant on Milestrip Road, where intruders broke a window and took $10,000.
"Their [method of operation] was to smash out the window, wait for the alarm, and then if there wasn't an alarm, to go for safes," Trask said.
In one of two burglaries at BW's Barbecue, they took the restaurant's safe, used the owner's truck to convey it to Cheektowaga and, after unloading the safe, dropped the truck off on Abbott Road, where they had left their car, Trask said.
The two also were charged in burglaries in October at Root Five on Lake Shore Road; in December at Pizza Hut on McKinley Parkway, Village Green Nursery on Lake View Road and Hoak's Restaurant on Lake Shore Road; and this month Wild Birds Unlimited.
"This is one of those success stories," Boehringer said. "It's good old-fashioned police work, from following footprints in the snow to a detective's memory [of another crime.]"