Retired police chief’s wife foils N. Branford burglary

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Aug. 14, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — The wife of a retired police chief thwarted a burglary this week when she arrived home and confronted a man police said was trying to steal a safe from the house.

The man and another suspect fled, but a New Haven man was later charged in connection with the crime, police said.

Michael Anastasio, 20, faces several charges after the incident, in which two men allegedly entered the home and took the safe, which was later found in the back yard, police said.

The Mill Road house is owned by Ruth and Robert Mulhern, the retired chief of the Groton, Mass., police department and the father of police officers in North Haven, Madison and East Haven. Robert Mulhern was also previously a captain in the Hamden Police Department.

“The guy really picked the wrong house,” Ruth Mulhern said Wednesday.

Police said the department received a 911 call at about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday about a suspicious person in a gray pickup truck leaving the home. Ruth Mulhern said she returned home to find the truck, which she though was her son’s, in the driveway. Her husband was not home at the time.

As she approached the empty truck, she realized it was not her son’s, and she saw a man walking from the side of the residence toward her. The man told her he was “measuring or surveying” the house and that his cousin was with him, but she did not believe him and walked inside to call police.

She also noticed that her dog was not at the door, which made her suspect another person was inside the house with the dog. That person apparently left through a rear sliding door and then met up with the driver of the truck, according to police.

As Mulhern was calling police, the man drove off in the pickup truck, whose license plate she was able to record. Later that day, police arrested Anastasio, who was driving. They anticipate another arrest in the case.

After police arrived, they discovered that a shelf with a safe bolted to it was missing. The safe contained cash, police badges and identification, and a handgun. The shelf and safe were later found in a dry river bed in the house’s back yard. A watch from the house is still missing, police said.

Anastasio was charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree larceny, theft of a firearm, third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary and third-degree conspiracy to commit larceny. He was released on $100,000 bond and is due in court Aug. 27, police said.

Deputy Police Chief Michael Doody said it appears that the alleged burglars did not know a police official lived in the house.

“I think they were going around in the guise that they were doing estimates. Anytime anybody sees something suspicious like that they should definitely call police right away,” Doody said. “It appeared to be totally random.”

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