, Newburyport, MA

January 10, 2013

Soap store break has police scrubbing for answers

Police want public's help to ID suspect

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — NEWBURYPORT — Local detectives are looking for the public’s help in identifying a man they say smashed into a State Street business last Wednesday, committed an unusual crime and has managed to elude authorities for more than a week.

Soak owner Dianne Sirard said the suspect kicked in the front door of the bath and body store, located on a busy street corner in downtown Newburyport. Caught on surveillance tape, he did something unusual for a break-in — he didn’t take anything. Instead, he sat down in a chair and tried to turn on the store’s computer.

“Like he was going to check his email or his Facebook,” Sirard said. “It was like he was sitting on his mom’s couch.”

At one point in the video, he rests his elbow on the desk and uses his hand to hold up his head, and appears to stare listlessly at the computer screen.

“Based on the video, he may have been under the influence of something,” said Newburyport Detective Matthew Simons.

Sirard described the suspect as a teen perhaps between 15- and 18 years old, adding it cost about $450 to replace the glass and repair the door frame.

Simons said it appears the Soak break-in, reported to authorities around 5:40 p.m., shortly after the store was closed for the day, was an isolated incident. No other businesses were hit during the same time frame.

“Obviously, we’re looking for an ID,” Simons said.

Simons added the suspect’s behavior suggests theft may not have been his motive.

Sirard agreed, saying it appeared he was staggering while walking around the store and wasn’t wearing a coat on one of the coldest days of the season. The suspect remained in the store for several minutes but left after receiving a phone call.

The longtime owner of the popular store said she was alerted to the break-in by another shop owner who called her when he noticed the police were inside her store. Sirard said she would contact other downtown businesses as well to see if perhaps the suspect worked in the area.

But Simons said the suspect is unknown to police, leading him to believe he does not frequent the downtown area.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect or the break-in is urged to call the Newburyport Police Department at 978-462-4411 and ask for inspectors Michael Sugrue or Matthew Simons.