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Career burglar once stuck in Rotterdam pizza shop vent arrested again

Career burglar once stuck in Rotterdam pizza shop vent arrested again

This time he climbed through a business window, police say
Career burglar once stuck in Rotterdam pizza shop vent arrested again
Timothy Cipriani stuck in a pizza shop vent in Rotterdam in 2011 and after he was rescued
Photographer: Rotterdam Police

ROTTERDAM -- A career burglary who gained international attention in 2011 when he got stuck in a pizza shop's air vent during a burglary has been arrested again -- for another break-in, police said on Monday.

This time, he avoided the business' air handling system and climbed through a window, police said.

Timothy J. Cipriani, now 54, of 1826 Campbell Ave., was arrested Sunday evening at his Schenectady home and was charged with third-degree burglary.

He is accused of burglarizing the Fu Sing Chinese restaurant, 1101 Curry Road, Rotterdam, at about 5:20 a.m. Sunday morning and making off with about $500 in cash.

Cipriani entered the business by pulling up a metal grate and discovering the window behind it was unlocked. He entered and left without incident.

Police street camera footage, along with security footage from other nearby businesses, led police to believe Cipriani was involved, police Lt. William Male said.  "The video pretty much confirmed everything for us," Male said.

Police knew Cipriani had returned to the area since he was released from prison last summer, Male said.

Police found him at his registered parole residence Sunday evening with the help of state parole officers and charged him, Male said.

The investigation was continuing, Male said, and police were looking for a second person who may have driven Cipriani from the scene.

The Rotterdam street cameras are new since Cipriani's last brush with the law.

Police took their own photos when Cipriani was pulled out of the air vent at Paesan's Pizza on Guilderland Avenue in 2011. The pizza shop is just around the corner from the Fu Sing Chinese restaurant.

Police said after the 2011 arrest that Cipriani was found pleading for help as he felt heat from deep-fryers below him. He eventually triggered the business' alarm system, and police and firefighters responded.

Police released the photos of a dirty Cipriani freshly pulled from the duct -- and of his dangling feet while still stuck. Those photos were disseminated widely in news stories over the internet.

Prosecutors in the 2011 case cited a total of 22 small-business burglaries committed by Cipriani since 1992. His history made him eligible for a sentence of 25 years to life, had the judge found him to be a persistent felon.

That judge, Karen Drago, chose the lesser sentence of 3.5 to 7 years when Cipriani was sentenced in 2013. 

While not discounting Cipriani's criminal history, Drago argued the minimum under that provision -- 15 years to life -- was too great and called on the state Legislature to give judges more flexibility in sentencing persistent nonviolent offenders.

Cipriani was released in July 2017 after about six years in custody.

If convicted of the most recent burglary, Cipriani would again be eligible for the persistent felon status and could be sentenced to life in prison.

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