A Connecticut man who was released from prison on Friday is suspected in a smash-and-grab burglary in Wallingford, as well as smash-and-grab burglaries in Branford, Oxford, Woodbridge and East Haven, according to police.
The suspect, 44 year old Michael Menta, was just released from prison on Friday after serving 17 years in prison for first-degree aggravated sexual assault and first-degree robbery, police said.
Police started investigating the recent cases just after 1 a.m. on Sunday when Wallingford patrol officers found the front door smashed at the Krauszer’s Food Store on South Main Street.
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When investigators watched surveillance, they noticed the man appeared to be the same person who committed a smash-and-grab burglary in Branford on Saturday.
Just after 3:30 a.m., Wallingford Patrol Officers responded to the Gulf Station at 1195 North Colony Road when an alarm went off and they found the front door was smashed and someone stole items from inside.
As another officer was responding, he found a Chevrolet Suburban outside the front door of the Shell Station at 1059 North Colony Road that matched the description of the vehicle that was on surveillance at Krauszer’s earlier, so he went to investigate.
That’s when the officer saw Menta throw a cash register out of the smashed front door of the Shell Station, then walked out, police said.
When the officer ordered him to get on the ground, Menta ignored his commands, got into his car and sped out of the parking lot, police said.
Officers chased him on Route 15 south, past the North Haven town line, but called off the chase because of the high speeds, police said.
A short time later, Menta led State Police on a chase and several law enforcement agencies assisted in the search before the vehicle crashed in Southington, police said.
Authorities later learned that the vehicle that Menta was driving has been stolen earlier from Amity Motors in Woodbridge, police said.
Menta is being held at the Wallingford Police Department on a combined $200,000 bond and is due in Meriden Superior Court on July 22.
He has been charged with three counts of third-degree burglary, three counts of second-degree criminal mischief, sixth-degree larceny, larceny in the third degree for theft of a motor vehicle, interfering with an officer, engaging police in pursuit, reckless driving for speeds over 85 miles per hour, possession of narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia and operating a motor vehicle under suspension.