Police: Serial burglars stole Purple Heart medal

Police say drugs may have fueled a burglary spree that led to a veteran's Purple Heart being ripped off. Ryan O'Malley, 33, and Nicole Oliva,

DEER PARK - Police say drugs may have fueled a burglary spree that led to a veteran's Purple Heart being ripped off.

Ryan O'Malley, 33, and Nicole Oliva, 29, are accused of at least six break-ins during the past two weeks in West Babylon, North Babylon and Deer Park.

Police say they stole the Purple Heart medal from World War II veteran Thomas Barden. Barden was given the medal for an injury, an award his family says he cherished. But last week, while the 87-year-old man was staying in an assisted-living facility, his West Babylon home was burglarized and the robbers grabbed his medal.

Investigators say O'Malley and Oliva had crack cocaine in their possession when they were arrested Saturday at the Deer Park Motor Inn.

They're facing drug and burglary charges.

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