EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 2, 2012

Police ask for help to ID suspects

Man, woman seen stealing lottery tickets in store video

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — City police are finding success in using security camera photos to identify crime suspects, and they’re asking the public’s help in solving another case.

After an armed robbery of a CVS in late September, police arrested a man whose photo from a store video appeared in The Eagle-Tribune. A reader identified the man and police arrested him at his home.

In another case, police released a bank ATM photo of a woman suspected of using a stolen debit card to make a withdrawal from the ATM. When the photo appeared in the Eagle-Tribune, it not only resulted in numerous calls from the public, but the woman showed up at the police station to say she was the person in the photo. No charges have been brought, but police said they are still investigating.

Police are asking for the public’s help again, this time in the theft of lottery scratch tickets from a Mobil gas station in Haverhill. Police have released store surveillance photographs of a man and woman suspected of pulling a scam at the Mobil Mart, 789 S. Main St., Bradford, last week, in which they made off with $300 in scratch tickets, investigators said. Police said they believe the same couple pulled a similar scam in Portsmouth, N.H.

Detective Capt. Alan Ratte said the couple used a diversion of some kind to steal lottery tickets from a convenience store in Portsmouth. He said Detective Carl Rogers, who is investigating the incident at the Mobil Mart in Bradford, learned about the incident in Portsmouth from a police website that lists local crimes of interest.

Ratte said the couple tries to be subtle in carrying out the scam, in hopes they can cash in any stolen winning tickets in another store before the thefts are discovered.

According to a police report, patrol Officer David MacKinnon was dispatched to the Mobil station and convenience store Oct. 26 at 10 p.m. for a report of a larceny. A store employee told MacKinnon that a man entered the store and said a gas pump outside was leaking and spraying gasoline. The employee said he stepped outside, looked over the situation and told the customer he would inform the station’s owner.

The employee said he then heard the door to the store open and saw a woman walk out, although he did not remember seeing her enter the store. The employee said the couple drove off in a gray Jeep. Police said the scratch ticket theft may have gone undetected were it not for the employee, who noticed one roll of tickets hanging lower than the rest.

The employee said that after checking the sequence of ticket numbers, it appeared that about 15 “Lifetime Spectacular” $20 scratch tickets were missing. The employee notified the store manager and the state Lottery Commission to put a hold on payments on that block of tickets. Police provided The Eagle-Tribune with video surveillance images showing the man and woman.

In the Sept. 30 robbery of the CVS on Lowell Avenue, a store security camera photo appearing in The Eagle-Tribune several days later led to the arrest of Richard Kennedy, 41, of 10 Varnum St, Apt. 2. Police said they received information from a resident identifying the person in the photo published Oct. 4 in The Eagle-Tribune as Kennedy. He is accused of using a handgun to rob prescription pills from the pharmacy. Police said he was identified through the photo even though he was wearing a scarf over his face.

In last week’s ATM case, police asked the public for help in identifying a woman accused of using a stolen debit card to withdraw $1,004 from bank ATMs in Methuen and Haverhill. Police said that on the afternoon of Oct. 15, a woman reported her pocketbook was missing from her car, which was parked outside Latitudes Sports Club, 3 Ferry St., Bradford.

Investigators released a bank video surveillance photo of another woman, in which it appears she is making a withdrawal using the stolen debit card, police said. The photo, which The Eagle-Tribune published last week, resulted in an almost immediate response from the public, as well as by the person in the photo, police said. Some people said they recognized the woman from her Facebook page.

Ratte said the woman in the photo showed up at the police station early last Friday morning, after the photo appeared on The Eagle-Tribune website. Ratte said police also received numerous calls from members of the public who identified the woman. Ratte said the woman returned to the police station yesterday, along with her lawyer, in hopes of clearing up the matter.

“The person pictured has a valid withdrawal slip and has voluntarily spoken with police along with her lawyer,” Ratte said about the woman. “She does have a valid withdrawal slip, but we need to make sure the bank didn’t make an error in providing us with the photo.”

Ratte said Det. Carl Rogers was to meet with bank officials yesterday.

“She may not be involved in any wrongdoing, but police are continuing to investigate,” Ratte said about the woman in the photo.