Nikitas “Nicky” Margiellos, 33, was described as the "ringleader" of the operation, which involved more than 50 commercial and residential burglaries on Long Island and in nearby counties between 2009-2011, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Federal charges were announced against some members of the burglary crew in November. On Thursday, Rice announced state charges from a grand jury indictment against five members of the crew, including two new ones.
Investigators have dubbed the case “Operation Crook, Line & Stinker” due to the defendants’ use of the term “fishing” as a code word for their burglaries, Rice said. The properties burglarized include 28 in Suffolk, 21 in Nassau, one in Queens and one in Westchester. More burglaries are suspected and cold cases are being re-investigated for matches to this crew, Rice said.
The burglary spree was a high tech operation, Rice said, with the crew often cutting telephone lines to disable alarms and using cellular telephone signal jamming devices to stop the back-up alarms from notifying the alarm companies’ central stations.
Other times the crew gained access to commercial establishments by cutting through the wall of an adjoining building, Rice said, and it often targeted cash businesses and if successful, the business owners' residences were then burglarized.
The crew also used GPS devices on business owners' vehicles to locate the owner’s residence and to track the owners' movements over an extended period of time so as to develop a pattern in their routine, Rice said.
Rich said that in nearly all of the burglaries, crew members conducted extensive Internet searches and physical surveillance of target locations prior to, in their terms, “going fishing.”
Margiellos pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Thursday and bail was set at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond.