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Falls police investigate new round of car break-ins

NIAGARA FALLS -- Police investigated nearly a half-dozen car break-ins in a 24-hour period ending Sunday afternoon, continuing a growing trend in the city.

At least two of the cars had been entered by means of "punching" a door lock, police said. The technique disables the lock and allows easy entry to the vehicle. In the other incidents, car windows were smashed out to gain entry.

Four of the five break-ins occurred in the vicinity of local businesses or in the business lots, including one at the Wendy's restaurant on Niagara Falls Boulevard and one at the Como restaurant. Both those incidents occurred between noon and 2:30 p.m. Saturday. An Ontario resident lost a global positioning system, other electronics and a bag containing $300 worth of recently purchased clothing in the Wendy's theft, police said. Also stolen was a custom plastic dental mouth guard valued at $500. An Ohio woman lost a purse with a debit card and a camera bag in the Como break-in.

Other break-ins occurred at the Ollie's store on Niagara Falls Boulevard, where a Wisconsin man reported losing tools and golf clubs in a theft that occurred between 2 and 3 p.m.; and outside the Sheesha Lounge on Pine Avenue, where a Walnut Avenue woman lost a wallet containing $160 and a debit card.

The final incident occurred between 11:30 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday outside a Park Place residence. A laptop valued at $500 was stolen out of a briefcase after a car window was smashed to gain entry.

Police Chief John Chella has identified car break-ins as a major concern in the city in recent days amid growing numbers of incidents citywide. He urged visitors and residents to not leave valuables inside their vehicles while unattended.


Two shot, one fatally, on Minnesota Avenue

Two people were shot -- one fatally -- Sunday in an early morning incident in Buffalo's University District.

Northeast District officers responded to a call at 1:20 a.m. in the 600 block of Minnesota Avenue, between Bailey Avenue and Eggert Road.

A man and a woman in their 20s were shot, and the woman died, Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said. The man is expected to survive, he added.

Anyone with information is asked to call or text the Confidential TIP-CALL Line at 847-2255 or email the department at


Cashier thwarts robbery at convenience store

NIAGARA FALLS -- An unyielding cashier thwarted a robbery attempt at the 7-Eleven store on Niagara Street late Saturday, police said.

According to reports, a man wearing orange gloves and a blue hoodie with the hood up over his head entered the store at about 10:40 p.m. and briefly walked around. The cashier, thinking the man looked suspicious, kept watch on him, thinking he was on a shoplifting mission.

The man approached the front counter moments later, aggressively threw a couple of items down and then demanded money. The cashier, confused, asked the man if he intended to purchase the items, police said, then snatched up the merchandise and demanded the would-be robber leave the store. The man fled on foot empty-handed.


Clarence man charged with aggravated DWI

A Clarence man faces charges for driving on Main Street early Sunday with his blood-alcohol content nearly three times the legal limit, according to Erie County sheriff's officials.

Kevin D. Cronan, 28, was charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated and released on appearance tickets to return to Clarence Town Court at a later date.


Fire in Amherst garage burns three minivans

Three minivans were burned in an Amherst garage fire Sunday morning that caused more than $100,000 damage.

The fire, at 9 Cascade Drive, was called in at 10:22 a.m. Ellicott Creek Fire Company volunteers responded, with assistance from the Getzville and Brighton fire companies.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Amherst Fire Inspector's Office and Amherst police.

Damage was estimated at $40,000 to the garage and its contents, $59,500 to the vehicles and $10,000 in exposure damage to a nearby home. Two of the minivans were parked in the garage at the time of the fire and the third was in the driveway.


Fire in vacant house damages two others

Three houses were damaged, and one person suffered facial burns when a vacant East Side house caught fire early Sunday, according to Buffalo fire officials.

A vacant two-story house at 65 Hill St. caught fire at 6:50 a.m., fire officials said, causing damage to the homes on each side of it.

Those homes, at 63 and 67 Hill, were occupied by four adults and one child, all of whom escaped. One adult at 63 Hill suffered minor facial burns, officials said. Officials from the American Red Cross were assisting residents.

Damage was estimated at $50,000 to the vacant home, $45,000 to 63 Hill and $25,000 to 67 Hill. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.