EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 3, 2013

Man charged in 'four-town crime spree'

SALEM — Police charged a Chelmsford man with multiple offenses after a “four-town crime spree” Tuesday, Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said.

Police arrested 11 people Tuesday, six of them drug related, he said, something he is seeing more of every day.

The arrest of James Slater, 23, of Chelmsford was the most dramatic.

It started when a Toyota Matrix was stolen in Andover Tuesday morning, Patten said. That car was used in the theft of baby formula in Chelmsford and Nashua later in the day, according to Patten.

Chelmsford police issued a “be-on-the-lookout” alert at 2 p.m. for the Matrix. Just 30 minutes later, Salem K-9 Officer Paul Benoit spotted the car pulling out of the Market Basket plaza onto Rockingham Park Boulevard, Patten said.

Benoit managed to pull up beside the car and force it to pull over.

The Matrix stopped, but the driver dove out of the passenger side window and took off, Patten said.

Benoit and Officer Matt MacKenzie gave chase and caught Slater at a nearby fence line.

Slater was combative, Patten said, but the officers were able to take him into custody. They determined Slater had just stolen baby formula from Market Basket, although store employees were unaware of the theft.

Police reviewed store surveillance video and saw Slater leave the store without paying for the formula, Patten said.

After nabbing Slater, police found a lot of jewelry inside the stolen car, items police believe were stolen, too, Patten said. Yesterday, detectives continued their investigation and were seeking a search warrant for the car, he said.

Slater is charged with a felony count of receiving stolen property; willful concealment, third offense, also a felony; resisting arrest; disobeying a police officer; and driving after revocation.

He was held on $25,000 cash bail. He was still listed as an inmate at the county jail yesterday afternoon.

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