Recently, in Peekskill, a 22-year-old man was arrested and charged with burglary and attempted burglary. The police claim he is responsible for attempting to break into a number of gas stations in the area. However, while an investigation supposedly linked the young man to a number of felony crimes over the past month, exactly how the police came to that conclusion was not made clear in a local news report.

The 22-year-old, who was said to be homeless, now faces three counts of third-degree burglary, which is a class D felony, and two counts of third-degree attempted burglary, which is a class E felony. The young man was arrested after police responded to a burglar alarm at a gas station at about 3 a.m. on Feb. 29.

Police spoke to one witness who gave a description of a person who was in the area at the time and who was supposedly trying to break into a gas station. Two officers said they saw someone shortly afterward who matched the description given by the witness. A local news report did not say whether the witness was asked to identify the suspect.

Despite what police and prosecutors may claim, statements from witnesses may not be as reliable as one might think. In this particular case, the police were responding to a situation in the early-morning hours. At such a time, visibility is almost certainly limited, and the accuracy of a witness’s description might be called into question. These issues and others will likely be on the young man’s mind as his case moves forward.

Source: Daily Peekskill, “Peekskill Man Charged in Connection to Burglaries,” Art Cusano, March 6, 2012