Lansing, N.Y. — One day during the second week of August, a group of police gathered in a room of the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office.

The officers had their work cut out for them. A string of burglaries had struck Ithaca and across the county. Something had to be done.

About 10 officers attended the meeting from several different agencies, including the Ithaca Police Department, Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, Cornell police and New York State Police.

The officers were able to identify several “persons of interest.” Information about them was distributed through Spillman software for law enforcement.

“We knew we needed to meet and that we needed to share the information right away,” said Senior Investigator Jody Coombes of the sheriff’s office. “And that’s exactly what we did.”

Coombes said he couldn’t elaborate on the specific next steps taken by law enforcement, but said that the August meeting proved crucial for linking the persons of interest with the crime.

“We did not know 100 percent if they were responsible, but it gave us enough information to start looking at them more closely,” Coombes said. “I can’t release all of our tactics, but there were a lot of things going on at that time.”

Leandre Lovett, 21, and Nadie Leigh Phoenix, 24, have been charged in the burglaries.

Then came Tuesday, when around 1:24 a.m. sheriff’s deputies investigating a broken window at a Subway in Lansing saw the vehicle that met some of the information discussed at the August meeting.

Leandre Lovett, 21, and Nadie Leigh Phoenix, 24, were arrested. They have since confessed to committing more than 20 burglaries, Coombes said. Lovett and Phoenix face several burglary charges each.

Court records picked up by The Voice on Wednesday suggest the extent of their crimes.

Among the stolen items stolen is a safe with more than $3,500, an engraved Navy sword and a diamond ring, records show.

Businesses have bemoaned the burglaries for several weeks. From the Piggery to Ithaca to Go to Quilters Corner, several have publicly expressed their frustration and desire for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Coombes said there’s still much work to do in the case. But he said he was glad police were able to make an arrest.

“It was a huge benefit for everyone involved — the community, the businesses, the victims,” Coombes said.

That benefit was made possible, Coombes said, by tough police work and collaboration across the local law enforcement departments.

“It’s a big team effort among all the agencies in our county,” Coombes said, “and it’s really commendable for all the agencies involved.”


Incomplete round-up of headlines related to the burglaries


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.