City police: Investigation of College Hill burglaries yields arrest

The City of Cortland Police Department (Photo: Provided)

City police arrested a 19-year-old city man Thursday morning as part of an investigation into a string of burglaries over the last month targeting SUNY Cortland students living in off-campus apartments, according to the department.

Austin C. Falso of 20 Peaceful Drive was charged with second-degree burglary and fourth-degree conspiracy, felonies, as well as petit larceny and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, misdemeanor.

Falso was arrested for entering a Woodruff Street home occupied by students and stealing a PS4 game system, said Lt. Michael Strangeway.

“A police investigation led to information being developed of the possible whereabouts of certain items of stolen property,” Strangeway said.

Officers executed a search warrant at Falso’s home and discovered stolen property from a different crime, he said.

City police are investigating eight burglaries at student residences and one larceny from a car, Strangeway said.

The burglaries involve a thief entering a residence, or reaching in through an open first-floor window and stealing whatever is in reach, he said.

Sometimes the students are gone, but other times students are home asleep, Strangeway said.

City police informed SUNY Cortland regarding the ongoing burglaries earlier in the semester and the college warned students through a compass-wide email sent Sept. 5.

Gregory Sharer, vice president for student affairs, encouraged SUNY Cortland students in the email to make sure their windows and doors were locked and call 911 to report suspicious activity.

Strangeway noted unlocked windows and doors were involved in the thefts and also encouraged students to lock their windows and doors, especially when they are sleeping.

Falso was arraigned this afternoon in City Court and sent to the Cortland County Correctional Facility on $5,000 bail or $10,000 bond. He is set to reappear Friday at 9 a.m.