Perhaps it was the popularity of self-storage auction shows on cable television that inspired a Lincoln man to come up with a scheme to gain access to lockers without waiting to pay for a bargain at an auction.
According to reports filed by Johnston Police, the man attended an auction at Extra Space Storage at 1815 Plainfield Street on July 25 and bought the contents of storage unit B225. But neither the storage company nor Patrolman Matthew Leveillee was aware of the scheme when Leveillee was investigating the theft of a television from one of the units on July 28. The woman who reported the theft said the padlock to her unit had been cut and the manager of the units went to investigate and found a number of the padlocks on that level had been cut and then rearranged in a way to appear intact. The boyfriend of the television owner reported that he had a vintage shotgun in his adjacent unit and it was missing, but added that he kept the bolt to the gun at home and there was no danger of it being used. In the meantime, other renters were advised of the situation and detectives were called the next day, when an antique Tonka toy in its original box was discovered hidden behind a scrub outside the building.
Det. Brian Loffredi then began to look into the matter. He said a perimeter check of the property determined there was no evidence of forced entry and quickly turned his attention to people who had access to the units. He learned that the Lincoln man paid for the locker, put his own padlock on it and was reminded that he had 24 hours to empty the unit. Loffredi learned that the buyer was issued a temporary gate code so he could get in to empty his locker. He also learned that the code had been used twice so far, but the buyer’s padlock was still on the unit and it was well past the deadline for moving his purchase.
The manager then sought permission from the company to open the locker while they reviewed the surveillance video. The video showed the building being visited by a rented box truck that was backed up to unit B225 and two men are seen, one of which is identified as the winning bidder at the auction and the other person is shown putting the Tonka toy behind a bush.
In the meantime, an inventory of goods missing from the 11 units that had their padlocks cut began to grow, including designer luggage, tools, marine equipment, a guitar, a canvas print of the Mona Lisa and a marine generator.
Loffredi then did a multiple-agency check on the man who bought the contents of B225. He said he contacted Coventry Detective Stephen Gabriele on Aug. 1 and learned the same man was a suspect in 58 storage locker breaks in that town and that they located a rented box truck and found an auction receipt from Extra Space Storage for locker B225. He said Gabriele sent him pictures of the stuff they found with the suspect’s property and they confirmed that it was the stuff taken from the units in Johnston.
Loffredi said Gabriele called him around 8:40 the next morning to inform him that Robert Giammarco, 24, of 885 Smithfield Ave., Lincoln, was arrested by Lincoln Police on a separate charge and transported him to Coventry, where he confessed to the 58 breaks in that town and the 11 breaks in Johnston. Giammarco was later arraigned in District Court for larceny over $1,500 and later released on $10,000 personal recognizance.