CROWN POINT | A convicted burglar transitioning out of prison used his freedom to break into two Crown Point residences last month, authorities said.
Robert Ottomanelli, 45, of Hammond, was charged with two residential burglaries.
He is accused of ransacking two homes on 96th Place the afternoon of Feb. 27 while he was taking part in the Lake Superior Court community transition program for inmates finishing prison sentences.
Ottomanelli has been been returned to state prison and now faces an additional sentence of up to 40 years if convicted of the newest felony counts.
Crown Point police said a resident of a north side neighborhood reported seeing Ottomanelli walking around homes about the time of the crimes and then riding away on a bicycle.
Police said burglaries took place less than two miles from the Lake County Community Corrections work-release center near the intersection of 93rd and Main Street in Crown Point, where Ottomanelli was living under minimum security in the final weeks of a prison term he received in 2008 for a Munster burglary.
Mark Murphy, of the Community Corrections program, said Ottomanelli had been on good behavior since entering the program recently and was given a pass to leave the residential center and look for work.
Community Corrections reported Ottomanelli as an escapee when he didn't return to the facility, Murphy said.
The facility quickly distributed posters with Ottomanelli's photo, and Hammond police arrested Ottomanelli within two days near the Purdue University Calumet campus, Murphy said.