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Tuesday, February 20 News

Cops: Visitor broke into cars, tried to bribe officer

A Massachusetts man, who police said admitted to breaking into cars here, offered an arresting officer $500 if instead he would drop him off at the Fairfield University campus, according to the report.

Ethan S. Eckhoff, 19, of Chelmsford, Mass., was charged early Saturday with bribery, four counts of third-degree burglary, three counts of sixth-degree larceny and one count of criminal attempt to commit sixth-degree larceny.

The incident unfolded around 12:30 a.m. Saturday when police received a report of suspicious man, walking shirtless down Mill Plain Road near Round Hill Road. Police said they found the man, later identified as Eckhoff, walking away from a car parked in a driveway on Round Hill Road.

As an officer approached, Eckhoff threw a bag to the ground, police said, and in the bag were Halls cough drops, Tums, Aleve and sunscreen, apparently taken from that car.

Eckhoff asked for a ride to the Fairfield University campus, where he said he was staying with a friend. He said he had left campus to go get a pack of cigarettes.

Protruding from his pockets, police said was a GPS unit, and around his neck were three pairs of wireless headphones. Prescriptions belonging to a Round Hill Road resident were also found in Eckhoff's pockets, police said.

Using the GPS unit's "go home" feature, police traced it back to a home on Lawrence Drive, where the homeowner confirmed his unlocked car had been entered and items were taken, including the GPS, according to the report.

According to the report, Eckhoff confessed to breaking into cars, and told police he was too drunk to remember which cars. He also blamed his behavior on the alcohol. During the investigation, police said, Eckhoff began to cry.

At one point, he offered the officer $500 if he would let him go, according to the report, and the officer explained the bribery is against the law. Eckhoff made the offer again as he was being taken to the headquarters, this time asking to be dropped off at the campus, police said.

Eckhoff was held on a $5,000 bond, and was also informed that Fairfield University security officials said he is no longer welcome on campus. His friend at the university confirmed that Eckhoff had told him that he was leaving to get cigarettes.

Eckhoff is scheduled to appear June 30 in Bridgeport Superior Court.