Burglary, according to Montgomery County Sheriff’s Investigator Joseph Kilmartin, is a Mickels family business.
Over the past six months, John Mickels, 56, of Sprakers, and his two sons Jonathan, 29, of Middleburgh, and Joshua, 32, of Fort Plain, allegedly broke into roughly 30 homes across Montgomery, Otsego, Herkimer and Schoharie counties, stealing thousands of dollars worth of guns, jewelry and anything else of value they could grab.
“They were opportunistic,” Kilmartin said, “They even stole a wood-splitter. It was basically whatever was around.”
A months-long investigation culminated in the arrest of the three Mickels men on felony burglary and larceny charges.
The case began over the summer, Kilmartin said, when law enforcement agencies across the region noticed a dramatic increase in burglaries.
As time went by, state police and the Otsego and Montgomery counties sheriff’s departments started comparing notes on the growing pattern.
They realized the burglaries were all executed the same way in the same sort of location — all country homes in broad daylight.
Eventually it became apparent the same crew was responsible for dozens of thefts, police said.
“They’d knock on the door and if no one was home, they’d just go in,” Kilmartin said. “No one robs a house at night. People are home at night.”
The case finally broke when several witnesses described the same silver Dodge pickup truck in the area of a few burglaries.
“We were able to trace it to Jonathan,” Kilmartin said.
All three Mickels men were recently arrested.
Sheriff’s deputies and state troopers found stolen guns, jewelry, crystal items, a chain saw and the wood splitter among other property at the three Mickels residences.
Those items, Kilmartin said, are likely just the few things the Mickelses couldn’t trade or sell before they were arrested.
In the months of burglaries, he said, dozens of guns were stolen and sold to friends.
“We’re trying to track down all those guns,” he said.
Other stolen items are harder to find. Generally, he said, stolen jewelry is sold to pawn shops and melted down.
Investigators might never know exactly how much the family took, but Kilmartin said the dollar amount is in the many thousands.
Burglary, he said, was one of the family’s main businesses. None of them were employed. John Mickels was collecting disability, he said.
“The burglaries were a collaborative sort of thing,” he said.
At this point all three Mickelses are charged with second-degree burglary and fourth-degree grand larceny, both felonies.
Kilmartin said more charges are possible but weren’t immediately leveled so as to provide a bargaining tool for the district attorney’s office.