NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 24, 2013

Thieves target summer homes

Salisbury police step up patrols

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — SALISBURY — Local police are encouraging Salisbury Beach residents to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior following a rash of house breaks that has plagued the beach area over the last few weeks.

Salisbury police Chief Thomas Fowler said it appears those responsible are targeting empty vacation homes and stealing copper piping. Copper prices have risen sharply over the last several years, making the metal a tempting target to thieves who then sell what they steal to scrap metal dealers.

On Tuesday, Fowler issued a Code Red phone blast to beach-area residents who signed up for the department’s robocall program. The call, which went out at 6 p.m., asked residents to be vigilant in reporting suspicious behavior especially around the beach area. It also informed the public that police are close to making at least one arrest in connection with the thefts.

The most recent incident took place Monday at about 4:30 p.m. when police responded to a house alarm triggered on Central Avenue near the beach. By the time police arrived at the vacant residence, thieves had already entered a house next door. Police were able to collect valuable evidence at the second home, also unoccupied, that Fowler said could lead them to the person they believe is the mastermind behind the recent thefts.

There have been no additional break-ins since Monday, Fowler added.

Police continue to monitor the unfolding situation closely and yesterday assigned an officer to patrol Salisbury Beach using a four-wheel vehicle. Fowler said the officer was on the beach mainly to look for more vacant homes that may have been victimized by the thieves.

“This is like a candy store for people,” Fowler said.

Away from the beach area, police have been investigating a series of break-ins of storage containers at Graf Brothers on Lafayette Road.

According to Fowler, over the last several weeks, Graf Brothers management has reported that trailer units and stationary containers have been hit and thousands of dollars worth of tools, equipment and supplies stolen. In all cases, locks or locking mechanisms have been cut by thieves.

In response to the thefts, Graf Brothers management has offered a $2,000 cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect or suspects responsible for the breaks. The reward is being offered only by Graf Brothers and is in no way connected with local police. It will be up to the company to decide whether any information obtained warrants a reward, Fowler said.

Anyone with information regarding the beach thefts or the Graf Brothers break-ins are encouraged to call the Salisbury Police Department’s detectives division at 978-462-3121. Those wishing to provide anonymous tips can call 978-225-2038 and leave a message.