By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Police said an alert neighbor’s call led them to a 17-year-old boy, who admitted to stealing items from as many as 20 unlocked vehicles.
A report of three young men with back packs seen rifling through vehicles in the Quimby Avenue area resulted in the boy’s arrest.
When police searched the teen’s backpack, they said they found it was stuffed with $223 in loose bills and about $10 in change, and also contained several GPS devices and charger cables, several iPod music players and headphones, lottery scratch tickets, several bank cards and gift cards, a few packs of cigarettes and burglarious tools.
Police said the boy refused to say anything about anyone he might have been with when they stopped him after the neighbor’s call early Tuesday morning. But he did say “we” when describing who was responsible for breaking into the vehicles, according to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court.
Police charged Steven Stefanelli, 17, of 36 John St. with breaking and entering a motor vehicle in the nighttime for felony, possession of burglarious tools and receiving stolen property.
Stefanelli was arraigned Wednesday on the charges in Haverhill District Court, where his bail was set at $750. He was placed on pretrial probation and ordered to remain drug and alcohol free and submit to random drug and alcohol testing. He was also issued a 60-day warning, meaning if he commits another offense while his case is pending he could be ordered held for up to 60 days without bail.
Police said they received a call about 1:15 a.m. on Tuesday from a woman who reported seeing three young males with backpacks going through cars parked on Quimby Street, which is off of Lawrence Street in the Round Pond area.
Officers responded, but could only find one young man walking down Elm Street, which is also off of Lawrence Street. Police said the boy identified himself as Stefanelli and, when asked how he was doing, said he was walking home from his girlfriend’s house. Police said he was unsure of the address and provided them with a vague description of a street off of Lawrence Street he did not know the name of, according to the police report.
When police asked Stefanelli if he had any weapons on him, he said he had a knife and that it was in his backpack. When police searched the backpack they found a large amount of cash that appeared disorganized and was loosely crumpled into a pile, as well as various electronic devices and a prescription pill bottle police said was taken from a man’s pickup truck that was parked on Elm Street and had been ransacked, according to the report.
The report said Stefanelli admitted to police that he broke into about 20 unlocked vehicles in an area ranging from Columbia Park to Concord Street to Kenoza Avenue and back to Elm Street. Stefanelli told police he took everything ranging from GPS devices to cash.
He also told police that none of the items in his backpack belonged to him, other than a cell phone, according to the report.
During booking, Stefanelli’s cell phone was receiving several incoming calls from a restricted number, but Stefanelli refused to provide officers with any information about who was calling or if it was related to the car breaks, police said.
Stefanelli must return to court on Aug. 9 for a pretrial hearing.