EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 17, 2013

Police warn residents to be wary of strangers approaching

By Mike LaBella

---- — HAVERHILL — Police believe the same man may be connected to several incidents this weekend where pedestrians were approached by strangers.

The incidents happened in the same area of the city and within minutes of each other.

In one incident, two women who were walking along Winter Street were approached by a car when one of the passengers pointed a gun at them.

In another incident, a man was walking on White Street when he was approached by another man who tore a chain off his neck then fled.

Police said that in two of the three incidents, the suspect was described as wearing a dark colored sweatshirt.

Police Deputy Chief Donald Thompson said two women in their early 20s told police they were walking on Winter Street near the Peking Garden restaurant early Sunday morning when a gold Toyota Corolla with its lights off pulled up behind them.

The women told police that four men were in the car, and that the man in the front passenger seat pointed a black handgun at them.

“They didn’t say anything to the girls and quickly drove off,” Thompson said.

The woman ran to Charles Street, where at 1:12 a.m. they called police to report what had happened, Thompson said.

Five minutes later, at 1:17 a.m., a man in his late 20s told police he was walking on Winter Street by the Pine River Fish Market when he was approached by man dressed in a black sweatshirt. Thompson said the suspect pulled out a knife, threatened the man and told the man to walk down Hale Street.

“The man with the knife then ran off and the victim ran down Winter Street to Lafayette Square, where he called police,” Thompson said.

At 1:24 a.m., a man in his early 40s told police that he was walking home on White Street when he was approached by a man who asked him “what’s going on?” When the victim answered, the suspect reached out and tore a necklace from the man’s neck, then ran away.

The suspect was described as approximately 5-feet 8-inches tall and dressed in a dark colored hoodie.

Thompson said investigators believe the three incidents may be related because of location, time and descriptions of the suspects.

“Be aware of your surroundings and be cautious if you are approached by a stranger at that time of night,” Thompson said.

Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to contact police at 978-373-1212. Messages can also be left on the police anonymous tip line by dialing 978-373-1212 and following the prompts.