, Newburyport, MA

December 21, 2013

Police track alleged gun thief to Tennessee


---- — ROWLEY — Police are in the process of extraditing a local man in custody in Tennessee for allegedly burglarizing a Cross Street home, stealing guns and ammunition.

Rowley police have charged Craig Michael Eaton, 23, of 209 High St., Ipswich, with felony breaking and entering, two counts of larceny of a firearm, possession of ammunition without federal permit, two counts of improper storage of firearms, larceny of property worth more than $250, carrying a firearm without a license and unlawfully carrying a large capacity firearm. Stolen were a 22-caliber revolver and a 40-caliber semi-automatic pistol, with accompanying ammunition.

According to Rowley police Chief Robert Barker, the summonses issued on the charges come after a three-week investigation of the Dec. 5 burglary of a local home into which people were just moving.

“This burglary didn’t feel the same as the typical robberies you see around,” Barker said. “This one just didn’t feel right. We believed there was a local connection. We found some evidence at the scene that led us to a Rowley individual who led us to Eaton. And we learned he’d gone on an excursion to Tennessee with a group of people.”

Rowley police entered the stolen merchandise into the national crime information computer database (NCIC) and soon after learned Eaton was in custody in Tennessee for possession of one of the stolen weapons.

“When the people he’d gone to Tennessee with realized he was carrying a stolen gun, they contacted the police there,” Barker said. “Tennessee police found the weapon we’d listed in NCIC and made contact with us.”

Barker said once that information came to light, his officers were able to pull a search warrant for the location in Rowley where Eaton had been residing.

“When we executed the warrant where Eaton had been staying, we found more stolen property,” Barker said. “We’re of the opinion that the property we found is from the Rowley burglary.”

Barker said his department has been working this officers in from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department in Tennessee, who have been very cooperative.

“Tennessee will hold (Eaton) over for us as a fugitive from justice, as we move to extradite him (back to Massachusetts),” Barker said. “He can either fight extradition or waive it. We’re working to indict him here.”

Barker credited Rowley Sgt. Stephen May and officer Matthew Ziev for their work on the investigation, which is still ongoing, he added.

“We’re very pleased to have solved this case,” Barker said. “When we can bring someone to justice for a crime, especially when stolen guns are involved, we’er very happy to do that.