By Dustin Luca
---- — ANDOVER — Police are investigating whether a Dracut man suspected in a Thursday morning tire theft may be connected to a recent spike in stolen tires in Haverhill, according to Andover police Lt. John Pathiakis.
Herbert Velazquez, 41, of 98 Pemberton St., Dracut, was arrested Thursday on River Road and charged with larceny over $250 after breaking his leg while jumping over a fence trying to flee the scene, according to police.
Police were called to Bulfinch Drive at 12:52 a.m. after a property security guard saw two men “trying to steal tires off of a vehicle” behind one of the apartment buildings there.
When police arrived, they found an empty vehicle belonging to Velazquez. Inside were two tires stolen from the victim’s car, but suspects were nowhere to be seen, police said.
Police detectives and a K-9 unit were sent to the scene, and State Police were called in to help set up a perimeter as police searched for suspects.
Half an hour later, police received a 911 call by cellphone “from a male requesting an ambulance for a broken leg.” The caller was not sure of his location, but said he was in the driveway of a white house on River Road. The caller said he “broke his leg while jumping over a fence,” according to police records.
While checking the caller’s name, officers learned he was the owner of the vehicle containing the stolen tires, according to police. Velazquez was transported to Lawrence General Hospital, accompanied by an officer given the larceny charge.
Pathiakis said Andover police are looking into whether Velazquez has any alleged connection to crimes in Haverhill, where there have been 15 reports of tire thefts since December, 13 of which have been made in the last four months. Eight of the thefts have occurred in parking lots of downtown apartment complexes.
“We’re ... looking into some of the evidence we have to see if we can tie it into that guy,” Pathiakis said.
During their investigation into the stolen tires on Bulfinch Drive, Andover police stopped a vehicle with a New Hampshire registration that was trying to leave the apartment complex at 3:12 a.m. Seferino Rodriguez, 27, of 27 Hampshire St., Salem, was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while unlicensed. Police did not have details on whether Rodriguez had any connection with Velazquez or the reported tire thefts.