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May 22, 2013

Lawrence man arrested in North Andover car break-in

NORTH ANDOVER — Police have charged a man in connection with one of the numerous car break-ins that have plagues the community for the last few weeks.

Brian Smith, 25, of 19 Winter St., Lawrence, was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property. Police Lt. Charles Gray said the investigation will continue to determine if Smith was involved in the other car break-ins and if others may have participated.

Dozens of residents have reported that their cars were rummaged through and items stolen, including computer laptops, GPS devices and money. Most if not all of the vehicles were unlocked and the break-ins took place when it was dark, police said.

A phone call from an alert neighbor who saw two “suspicious men” leaving a driveway at 85 Moody St. early Monday morning may have given investigators the opportunity they were looking for, according to Lt. Gray. Moody Street is among the neighborhoods that have been hit with car break-ins in recent weeks, Gray noted.

Officer Brian Faye headed for the scene and confronted the two men at Furber Street and Brightwood Avenue. He was joined by Sgt. Michael Davis.

When asked what they were doing in that neighborhood, the two men claimed they were headed for the Lawrence Municipal Airport for breakfast, according to a report filed with Lawrence District Court by Faye. The officers pointed out that it was shortly after 4:30 a.m. and the Airport Cafe does not open until 6:30 a.m.

The officers then interviewed the two men separately. One had a small amount of change. When asked how he was going to pay for breakfast, he claimed he was only going to buy a cup of coffee, according to Faye’s report. He refused to answer any more questions.

The other man, however, had a cell phone that had been reported stolen from the Carl Thomas Playground a few hours before, Gray said. He also had a Boston University ID that turned out to be stolen, Faye wrote.

The man who accompanied Smith was not charged. The “suspicious men” were reported at 4:39 a.m.

Smith pleaded not guilty in Lawrence District Court on Monday. Judge Lynn Rooney released him on his own recognizance and continued the case until June 26.

Attorney Linda Harvey of Methuen was appointed to represent him.

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