Arrest After Homeowner Foils Attempted Truck Theft

Police said that James G. Sbardella, 33, was arrested after he tried to steal a truck in East Hampton Village on Thursday evening. E.H.T.P.D.

After a tense search by helicopter and police dogs on Thursday night, police arrested a man who they said was foiled while trying to steal a truck from a house that he had taken another vehicle from a month earlier.

Village Police Detective Lt. Tony Long said Friday that Tom Piacentine, an owner of the property at 10 Buell Lane Extension, had noticed someone in the driveway around 8 p.m. and ran outside. He reportedly saw James G. Sbardella, 33, inside his truck, rifling through its contents by the light of a cellphone.

After a scuffle in which the suspect hit the driveway face-first, Mr. Sbardella fled along Buell Lane Extension.

With help of town officers, police cordoned off the area and called in the Riverhead Town police canine unit and a Suffolk police helicopter.

A number of East Hampton Village residents were alarmed by the sound of the helicopter as it searched for the suspect. Several phoned police and were told to lock their doors, stay inside, and not respond to anyone they did not know who wanted to come in.

With the help of a police dog, officers were able to track Mr. Sbardella to a nearby property. Detective Long said that he fled from his hiding place in some bushes as the dog approached, bolting into the street, where another officer was waiting with Mr. Piacentine, who identified Mr. Sbardella as the person he had seen earlier in his truck.

Police said Mr. Sbardella told them he was an unemployed landscaper staying at a house on Stephen Hand's Path in East Hampton. They charged him with burglary, attempted grand larceny, and marijuana possession, arresting him at about 10:30 p.m.

Detective Long said that Mr. Sbardella had also been responsible for a theft, reported on Oct. 30, of a Ford Edge from the same Buell Lane Extension property. That vehicle was later found abandoned on Stephen Hand's Path. Charges had not been filed in that case.

Police said that Mr. Sbardella is linked to burglary at a house on Talmage Lane in East Hampton Village that was discovered on Nov. 11. Chief Gerard Larsen said that he had admitted to breaking a window and stealing liquor.

Detective Long said that Mr. Sbardella was being held in Suffolk jail in Riverside pending an expected extradition to Florida, where he is wanted on a warrant on an alleged parole violation related to an apparent burglary in Columbia County.