METHUEN – Police praised a relative of a homeowner who risked personal injury last night to help capture a burglary suspect outside a Dale Street home.
“The Methuen police commends his bravery – it was certainly a very brave act,” Methuen police Lt. Michael Wnek said, following the arrest of a city man accused of the house break who police say may be linked to several others in the city’s west side.
Wilfredo Rivera, 44, who lives in the basement apartment of 49 Madison St., was charged with breaking and entering in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony, intimidation of a witness, assault and battery, willful malicious injury to personal property, attempted larceny and burglary assault on an occupant.
Police received an emergency 911 call shortly after 7:30 p.m. that somebody had broken into a home on Dale Street, off of Riverside Drive. A relative of an elderly homeowner confronted a stranger as he walked into the home, according to police. “He (Rivera) claimed to be looking for his lawyer,” Wnek said.
“When the relative of homeowner attempted to call police on his cell phone, he was assaulted by Rivera, who knocked cell phone out of his hand. A struggle ensued inside the home and into the garage and ended on the front lawn where the relative had pinned the suspect until the arrival of Sgt. (Larry) Phillips,” Wnek said.
Phillips, the first officer on the scene, handcuffed Rivera, who was pinned down. As a result of the scuffle, the relative received minor injuries to his face, according to police.
Rivera, described as a self-employed construction worker who has admitted to a drug problem, was being interviewed by detectives at the Methuen police station last night in connection with several other recent house burglaries in the Haverhill Street area. “He is a suspect in numerous burglaries that occurred in the west end of the city,” Methuen police Lt. James Jajuga, Jr. said in an interview last night.
“We have already obtained information – both testimonial and non testimonial evidence – that will be leading to additional charges related to at least three incidents where a residence was entered. In some of these incidents, residents were home at the time. So, it was imperative that we identified and arrested the suspect before any innocent citizens were injured,” Jajuga said.
Rivera was not known to local police before last night’s arrest. He is originally from Puerto Rico and recently moved into the area. But he came here with a lengthy criminal history, according to police. “We believe at this time, based on his statements, that the crimes were committed in order to enable his drug habit, heroin in particular. But he had other substance abuse issues,” Lt. Jajuga said.