Charges, but no coins, for man who Googled washing machine break-ins

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PITTSFIELD — A city man who searched Google for "how to break into Laundromat washing machines" is facing charges for several unsuccessful attempts to do just that.

Michael V. Houle 27, is allegedly seen in surveillance photos trying to break into eight washing machines last month. He turned himself in at the Pittsfield Police Department on Friday afternoon after he was contacted by officers via telephone.

According to court records, Houle told police he didn't believe he broke into eight machines, but maybe "four or five."

Police told him four or five machines wouldn't really change the outcome of the situation.

"I guess you're right," Houle allegedly told police. "So either way, I'm screwed."

According to police, officers were contacted Friday for a report of past burglaries at a Tyler Street Laundromat.

Police reviewed the March 31 surveillance photos and identified the male holding a screwdriver and attempting to break into a machine as Houle.

Laundromat staff told police Houle could be seen removing the faceplate of a machine with a screwdriver, then taking the tool and jamming it into the lock, in an apparent attempt to get into the coin receptacle.

Staff also told police the same man was seen on video on March 26 attempting to break into seven other machines in the same manner.

Each attempt caused damage to the machines, requiring $180 worth of repairs to each of them, for a total of $1,440.

When police went to Houle's address to speak with him, he was not home, but they met his mother, who informed them of the Google search on her phone.

Houle pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Monday to eight counts each of vandalizing property and breaking into a depository and one count of possession of a burglarious instrument.

Houle was released on his own recognizance by Judge William A. Rota on the condition he stay away from the Laundromat. He is due back in court on May 18 for a pretrial hearing.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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