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Police: Off-duty Suffolk County cop helps nab power tool thieves

An off-duty Suffolk County police officer is being credited with helping apprehend four suspects wanted for allegedly stealing power tools from a Home Depot store after he recognized their vehicle while driving home from work, authorities said March 19.

Frank Defilipo, 35, of 255 Auburn Ave., Staten Island, is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny.
Credit: Suffolk County Police Dept.

Police said Officer Martin Gill was on patrol in the Fifth Precinct around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday when he was called to take a report at a Home Depot location on Farber Drive in Bellport. When Gill arrived to the scene, store workers told him three men had stolen several power tools from the home improvement store and then fled in a Ford Explorer SUV that was waiting outside.

Gill was on his way home from work, around 4:15 p.m., when he spotted an SUV matching the description of the vehicle that was waiting in front of the Home Depot a few hours earlier, police officials said. The officer followed the car – while providing updates to a police dispatcher – until marked units stopped the SUV along County Road 99 near Patchogue-Holbrook Road in Holbrook.

Police said responding officers arrested four men on charges of fourth-degree grand larceny. They were identified as: Frank Defilipo, 35, of Staten Island; Ryan Dayton, 31, of East Islip; Jonathan Farinella, 26, of East Patchogue; and Jeffrey Merritt, 23, of Hope Mills, N.C.

Detectives said an investigation is continuing, as they work to determine if any of the suspects may be responsible for thefts at other home improvement stores, a news release said.