Police: Onota Street dog credited in deterring theft


PITTSFIELD -- Police believe a pit bull-type dog kept a serial burglar from making off with any loot on Thursday morning after the 51-year-old suspect allegedly entered an Onota Street residence while the homeowner was away.

On Friday, Akkoya T. Salahudeen of Wendell Avenue Extension pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court to a single count of breaking and entering in the daytime for a felony and was held on $3,000 bail by Judge Fredric D. Rutberg.

Salahudeen, who was formerly known as Jeffrey L. Dowdell, is a level 3 sex offender who has a number of prior convictions for breaking and entering and has served "lengthy prison sentences," according to a Pittsfield Police report.

On Thursday morning, police were called to Onota Street after neighbors allegedly witnessed Salahudeen jump the fence of the Pittsfield Cemetery and go into a house.

The neighbors said they heard the dog's barking. A short time later, the suspect fled the residence with a snow brush, which was later found near the fence, in hand, said police.

According to the report, police believe "the suspect used the snow brush to keep the pit bull dog at bay."

Police determined nothing else had been taken from the residence.

Salahudeen was arrested a few minutes later in the cemetery. He allegedly told police he hadn't been on Onota Street but had been visiting his mother's grave.

The home's 31-year-old resident was not home at the time of the alleged break-in, police said.

In October 2011, Salahudeen pleaded guilty to a similar daytime break-in he committed in June 2010 and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

The state classifies him as a level 3 offender, a designation given to people the state believes are the most likely to re-offend. He was convicted of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 in 1988.

On Friday, Salahudeen agreed to be held on $3,000 bail and is scheduled to be back in court in June. He is being represented by attorney Michelle Mechta.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
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