EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 26, 2014

Bold robbers scope out Lawrence neighborhoods for 'distracted' victims, police say

LAWRENCE — Simple, mundane tasks that people do every day — like carrying groceries into the house — can make unsuspecting city residents the targets of violent crooks who are scoping out the neighborhood.

That’s a growing trend that police have been observing in their recent efforts to crack down on armed robberies, according to acting Lawrence police Chief James Fitzpatrick.

“They have been attacking people who are distracted,” Fitzpatrick said in an interview yesterday, reflecting on the three armed robbery incidents that police responded to Friday night.

“They are distracted with either being on their phone or exiting their car. The one on Willow Street, involved someone getting groceries from their car,” he said.

The first armed robbery occurred on Willow Street at 9:13 p.m., followed by another incident at 10:00 p.m. on Hancock Street and a failed attempt on Dorchester Street 15 minutes later.

Lawrence police are looking for dark blue or dark gray Ford Explorer, with a loud exhaust. linked to two of the robberies.

Witnesses reported two suspects, both dressed in black, wearing dark ski masks — one with a weapon shown.

Fitzpatrick said all three involved residents either entering or exiting a home when the robberies occurred, which, he says has been a disturbing trend lately as police respond to a recent rash of armed robberies in the neighborhoods.

Another trend that has been occurring is that suspects have the getaway vehicle waiting a block away — instead near the robbery scene.

“Looking at the analysis, many times they will rob someone and run away from the scene to a car that is down the street or a block away. Sometimes, even further,” Fitzpatrick said.

This very tactic is what happened with the attempted robbery on Dorchester Street, according to police.

“They tried robbing someone getting out of a car, but he (the victim) got away and said he saw them running down the street.,” Fitzpatrick said. “We brought the K-9 unit out where we tracked them down to an abandoned alley way where we think a getaway vehicle was waiting for them,” he said.

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