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Shi Tzu and the Art of Backhoe Larceny

The Warwick Police Department is located at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.
The Warwick Police Department is located at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.
The Warwick Police Department is located at 99 Veterans Memorial Drive.

WARWICK, R.I. — There may be a special relationship between a man and his dog, but there was no relationship between a Warwick man and the owner of the backhoe the operator was driving south down Jefferson Boulevard in the company of his Shi Tzu May 9 at 11:28 a.m.

Officer Johnson noted the heavy duty backhoe, a yellow and black 2004 John Deere Schmidt 7 worth $45,000, traveling between the lanes south on Jefferson Boulevard, driven by Peter Dambruoso, 52, of 237 Hardig Road, Warwick, R.I., with a lap dog Shi Tzu in the cab with him, according to the officer’s report.

Johnson noted he recognized the man, whom he knew was not gainfully employed in construction. The officer stopped Dambruoso and spoke with him, asking where he was going with the equipment. Dambruoso replied that he was transporting the backhoe to his home at Hardig Road, where he was going to do some welding work on it. Dambruoso said he had gotten permission to take the backhoe to perform the work. The man said he did not know the name of the person who had given him permission.

Johnson checked the serial number on the backhoe, determining that it was not reported stolen. A search of Dambruoso’s person turned up a glass smoking pipe Johnson noted is commonly used to smoke crack cocaine. Dambruoso said he had not used the pipe recently. The officer also examined the key in the vehicle, a generic key for John Deere tractors which Dambruoso said he owned from his own tractor.

Johnson detained Dambruoso, and read him his rights, after which the man agreed to take the officer to the spot he’d taken the backhoe from, leading him to the 820 Elmwood Ave. Post Office in Providence, R.I. Johnson asked if he had spoken to anyone in the Post Office, and D’Ambruoso said he had not. The Postmaster said the backhoe belonged to the contractor who was in charge of snow removal at the lot, BBC Transportation, and provided the phone number for the owner.

The owner, Mike Dobridnia, told Johnson that he had not given anyone permission to take the backhoe for any reason. Johnson advised him to report it stolen at the Providence Police department, and to tell them it had been recovered by the Warwick Police.

Johnson formally arrested D’Ambruoso, charging him with Receiving Stolen Goods, a felony. Johnson also issued D’Ambruoso a traffic ticket for driving an unregistered vehicle.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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