The Yale police’s street crime unit suspect a man arrested for breaking into a vehicle Thursday is responsible for a string of car break-ins in the downtown area, University Police Lt. Michael Patten said.

Patten said the arrest of Stanley McLellan was the first carried out this semester by the street crime unit, a Yale University Police unit that works in conjunction with the New Haven Police Department. Patten said the two University police officers selected last month for the street crime unit arrested McLellan using information provided by New Haven Police Sgt. Luis Casanova.

“[The officers] found out that about 30 cars had been broken into in the last three weeks in the downtown area, primarily south of Chapel in the George Street area,” Patten said. “They had set up to watch the area.”

Casanova said the New Haven Police Department suspects McLellan to be chiefly responsible for the recent surge in auto thefts. He said McLellan’s criminal record shows he was responsible for a similar surge in auto thefts last summer.

“We believe he is responsible because, back in June 2003, he was the subject that was apprehended,” Casanova said. “When we arrested him the last time, our thefts from auto went down drastically.”

Casanova commended the street crime unit for the arrest.

“They were extremely instrumental this time in making the apprehension of a subject who is responsible for many of the car break-ins that have occurred recently in the downtown neighborhood,” he said.

Patten said the University’s street crime unit has existed “off and on” for at least 20 years, operating primarily when Yale is in session. The unit collaborates with the New Haven Police Department on criminal matters concerning both the city and the University, he said.

“We’re always talking back and forth with each other. A lot of times we’ll coordinate activities,” he said. “What affects New Haven affects Yale, and what affects Yale affects New Haven.”

Patten said Jeremy Brewer and Frank DeCrescenco make up the undercover unit, which is usually staffed by officers who volunteer for a six-month period.

“They’re in an unmarked car and in plain clothes,” Patten said. “That’s why the unit is effective.”

Patten said Brewer and DeCrescenco followed McLellan into an alley near 300 George St. — where a number of University offices are located — and approached him after he entered a vehicle by smashing the window.

“As they came towards him, he jumped out of the car and ran away, so they arrested him,” Patten said. “They found out that the CD player in the car was half pulled off.”

Patten said McLellan was arrested for burglary, criminal attempt to commit larceny, criminal mischief and interfering with an officer. He said McLellan had been released from prison only a few weeks before the arrest.

A spokesperson for the New Haven Superior Court said McLellan’s case is scheduled for Nov. 1.