PITTSFIELD -- A suspect in an extensive series of break-ins and jewelry thefts in Lenox and neighboring communities is being held without bail after pleading not guilty on Wednesday to new charges that include burglary, drug possession and larceny.

Lauren M. Duffin, 26, a current resident of Pittsfield, was charged with multiple felonies in the most recent house break in Lenox. Duffin listed her official address as 166 Housatonic St., Lenox, where she grew up, according to Lenox Police Chief Stephen O'Brien.

Duffin was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield on the latest charges and is being held without the right to bail at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction until Monday, when a bail revocation hearing on six open cases will be held in Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington. If her bail is revoked, Duffin can be held for 60 days.

All of her earlier cases -- from Lenox, Dalton and Pittsfield -- are scheduled for either trials or status hearings in Central Berkshire District Court on Tuesday.

Last November, she was arrested by Lenox police following a Cliffwood Street burglary and held without bail for several weeks on felony charges stemming from that case as well as recent, additional break-ins near the center of Lenox. Previously, she was free pending a Pittsfield jury trial in connection with several previous burglaries in the city.

On Monday, Lenox officers Timothy Sheehan and William Fuore responded to a report of a 10 a.m. break-in at 184 Housatonic St.


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and of a potential suspect fleeing into nearby woods, as witnessed by a neighbor. The suspect was later located on North Street in Pittsfield through cooperation with Pittsfield police and was detained for purposes of identification, O'Brien said, but a witness could not make a positive identification at the time, prompting her release.

Sheehan canvassed the Housatonic Street neighborhood on Tuesday, interviewed several neighbors and located a witness who identified Duffin as the suspect fleeing from the woods and then boarding a bus for Pittsfield. Based on video surveillance from her ride on a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus to Pittsfield on Monday, she was arrested on a return trip Tuesday from the bus as it stopped in front of Lenox Town Hall, O'Brien said, citing "great cooperation" from the BRTA.

Police charged her with breaking and entering in the daytime with the intent to commit a felony in the Monday incident, as well as larceny from a building. The Housatonic Street resident discovered missing jewelry upon returning home, O'Brien said.

A related search of Duffin's personal belongings after she was arrested uncovered drug paraphernalia with a residue of heroin, he added. The residue is being examined by a drug lab for confirmation. In addition to the two felony counts, Duffin was charged with possession of a class A drug, a misdemeanor.

Duffin is a potential suspect in three previous break-ins in the High Street area of Lenox during the past two weeks, O'Brien said, but has not yet been charged.

In addition, she has been charged with a total of five daytime breaking and entering cases in Lenox since last October, all involving the theft of jewelry.

"It's tough to estimate the monetary value," said O'Brien, "but much more important is the sentimental value of all these items that were taken from people and the fact that someone entered their home."

"Hopefully, the residents of High Street and Housatonic Street can have some peace of mind now that we were able to make an arrest," he added.

Some of the incidents involved forced entry, O'Brien noted, stressing that "we're in an era where we need to have secure homes." He urged residents to lock their doors and consider an alarm system if they can afford one.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@yahoo.com
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto