EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 15, 2013

Intense search leads to charges

Helicopter, dogs tracked man wanted in breaks

By Douglas Moser
dmoser@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — A North Andover man who pleaded guilty to breaking and entering charges three weeks ago was back in court yesterday, standing accused of the same crimes.

Michael Robertson, 24, 479 Sutton St., North Andover, was arrested Tuesday night following an hour-plus search that included a canine unit and a State Police helicopter. Robertson is believed to have stolen a Garmin GPS device, various gift cards and change from cars on and around Sutton Street.

He was arraigned yesterday for two counts of breaking and entering a vehicle at night with intent to commit a felony and receiving stolen property. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail for violating the conditions of probation related to the earlier breaking and entering charges.

His next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 11.

A Sutton Street man called police Tuesday at 8:48 p.m. reporting a suspicious man near his car. He discovered a Garmin GPS and two phone chargers missing from the vehicle, assistant district attorney Lindsay Nasson said in court yesterday.

Police responded and spotted a man with a backpack who matched the caller’s description. When the man spotted police, he ran into the woods, Nasson said.

A canine unit and a State Police helicopter were called to assist in the search. After about an hour, police found Robertson climbing over a fence at Lawrence Municipal Airport near Wood Avenue and arrested him.

Police found on Robertson some change and various gift cards, which they believe were taken from other cars in the Sutton Street area.

Referencing the police report, Nasson said Robertson told police he did not want to go back to jail. When asked why he would go back to jail, he told police, “Because I’m drunk, and when I’m drunk I do stupid things.”

Robertson told police he steals GPS systems and either sells them to cab drivers or exchanges them with cabbies for rides, Nasson said.

He ditched the backpack at some point during the pursuit, and police had not recovered it as of yesterday afternoon, said North Andover Police Lt. Charles Gray.

Defense Attorney Jon Andrews asked the judge to release Robertson with a monitoring bracelet so he could see his two young children, adding that he wanted to enroll in a treatment program.

Robertson was arrested June 19 on Surrey Street in North Andover and charged with three counts of breaking and entering a vehicle at night with intent to commit a felony, which is a felony, and three counts of receiving stolen property. He pleaded guilty to those charges on July 24 and was sentenced to one year in jail suspended for three years.

He was ordered to stay out of trouble, be drug- and alcohol-free and enroll in substance abuse and mental health evaluation and treatment as part of his probation.

Nasson said he was scheduled to report to probation for the first time yesterday. “He’s here, but not under circumstances we would have expected,” she said.

Steve O’Connell, a spokesman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said prosecutors asked in the prior case for a two year sentence, with one year to be served and the remainder suspended for three years.

Robertson faces a year in jail for his previous charges, and two and a half years in jail or, if an indictment is sought, up to 20 years in state prison for the current charges.

North Andover police have been combating a spate of car break ins. Aside from Robertson, police arrested a couple of teenagers on June 22 whom police said were stealing from vehicles on Fernview Avenue. A resident who called police that night caught one of the boys, and police captured the other.

They were charged with breaking and entering in the nighttime and receiving stolen property.

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