CPD: Detective nabs St. Mary's School burglar

An alert detective arrested a man for burglarizing St. Mary’s School just hours after the theft of 15 computers was reported early this morning, according to the Cortland Police Department.

Another city man was also arrested for possessing most of the 15 stolen Chromebooks, according to the department. In total, police recovered a dozen laptops, said Lt. Michael Strangeway.

At 7:45 this morning, city police were called to the small, private school at 61 N. Main St. to investigate an overnight burglary, Strangeway said. Security video recorded a man entering the elementary school after hours through a door that had accidentally been left unlocked, he said.

Detective Sgt. Dan Edwards recognized the man in the video as Michael P. McCloy, 27, of 181 Homer Ave. Apt. C4, whom he had just encountered near the school, Strangeway stated.

Edwards and other officers quickly went back to the area where McCloy was and arrested him, he said.

McCloy was “profoundly impaired” by bath salts when he was arrested, said Strangeway.

Bath Salts are synthetic stimulants that resemble epsom salts, but are actually drugs that can produce euphoria, delusions and hallucinations when snorted, smoked or injected, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

McCloy told officers where he took the stolen laptops and officers were able to recover 11 of them after executing a search warrant at the home of Cliffard M. Hallstead, 31, at 73 Central Ave., police said.

“Officers located one item in the basement of the residence that wasn't completely covered in dust and cobwebs —  a black cloth suitcase that was secured shut with thre padlocks,” said Strangeway. Inside, officers found the Chromebooks, he said.

One other laptop was found in the room of an acquaintance of McCloy’s at the Econo Lodge at 10 Church Street, said Strangeway.

Three of the Chromebooks were not recovered and police believe they were likely sold or traded for drugs, Strangeway said.

In total, the 15 stolen laptops were worth $7,800, he said.

“For a private school like St. Mary’s, $8,000 in lost equipment is a big hit,” Strangeway noted. “We’re going to try to get their property turned back over to them as quickly as possible.”

Strangeway noted that District Attorney Patrick Perfetti and the two defendants’ attorneys would all have to agree in writing to release the laptops and rely on photographs of the computers as evidence before the Chromebooks can be returned. 

McCloy was charged with third-degree burglary and third-degree grand larceny, felonies, while Hallstead was charged with felony, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

Police request anyone with information about the three laptops still missing to call Edwards at (607) 753-3001 ext. 308.