EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 13, 2013

Police: Teen helps disabled couple, then robs them

He asked for ride, then told them he had gun, investigators say

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — Police said a teenager preyed upon a disabled man and woman who thought he was doing a good deed.

Instead, he told them he had a gun and robbed them, police said. Investigators are asking the public to help identify the teen.

The incident happened about 8 p.m. Friday in Central Plaza. A disabled woman in her 70s, who lives in Bradford, and her disabled passenger, a man in his 50s who lives off Main Street, had just finished shopping at Market Basket and were struggling to load groceries into their car, police said.

Police said a teenager saw they were having difficulty and walked up to them. They described him as being between the ages of 17 and 19 with a thin build, about 5 feet-6 inches tall and wearing dark clothes.

Police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said the teenager asked the couple if he could help. After loading the groceries into the woman’s car, he asked her for a ride to Bradford on the other side of the Basiliere Bridge, which is near the plaza, Thompson said.

“He got into the back seat and they drove to the South Elm Street area, where he told the woman that he had a gun and ordered her to give him her purse,” Thompson said. “He told the disabled man to give him his wallet.”

Thompson said that as the woman was approaching the intersection of South Elm Street and Pleasant Street, she pulled her car to the side of the road and began honking her horn to get the attention of anyone who might help her.

“At one point, there was a brief struggle and the man was able to pull a wallet from the woman’s purse before running away with it,” Thompson said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact police Detective Megan Buckley at 978-373-1212.

“I know it’s a tough one, but when a stranger comes up to you and asks you for a ride, you really have to weigh the situation,’’ Thompson said. “If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.”