By Paul Tennant
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — During the past week, a thief or thieves opened the unlocked doors of more than 30 cars in this town, rummaged through residents' belongings and stole several items, including a GPS device, a couple of purses, a wallet and loose change.
North Andover police hope that the diligence and team work that led to the capture last week of the Boston Marathon bomber and, closer to home, the alleged Merrimack Valley Bandit will also result in the arrest of whoever has been preying on local residents since April 19.
Methuen has also seen a recent increase in the number of vehicle break-ins, according to police Chief Joseph Solomon. Three were reported in one night, he said. Unlocked doors allowed the crooks to enter the cars.
Lt. Charles Gray, North Andover police spokesman, said the case is under investigation and did not provide further details last night. Again, he urged residents to keep their vehicles locked and to not store valuables, such as GPS devices and purses, in them.
The police have used social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to spread this message, he said. Solomon said his department has also reached out to residents, urging them to "take an extra second to lock your car."
The chief also recommended people consider installing motion lights on their property. The culprits, he pointed out, "don't want to be seen."
Most recently, a resident at 172 Bridle Path Road reported at 9:12 a.m. Thursday that a car there had been entered sometime during the previous night. A resident at 44 Bradstreet Road told police at 10:03 a.m. that two vehicles on the property had been entered sometime Tuesday night.
The police log did not report anything being stolen in those cases.
The first incident in the recent spate of vehicle break-ins was reported at 3:44 p.m. April 19. A resident at 4 Wood Lane told police a Garvin GPS device was stolen from a car.