EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

February 20, 2013

Burglary suspects held on $20K bail

PELHAM — Two men are being held on $20,000 cash bail each in connection with at least 20 burglaries in more than a half dozen towns in two states towns, police said,

Matthew Szczechura, 29, of Pelham and Jeffrey Lavoie, 26, of Hudson were arraigned yesterday on felony charges in 10th Circuit Court in Salem following their arrests Monday night in Pelham, according to Pelham police Lt. Brian McCarthy. They are being held at the Valley Street Jail in Manchester.

The two men were arrested at about 5 p.m. during a motor vehicle stop on Mammoth Road. Stolen merchandise, taken in four burglaries earlier in the day, was seized from the vehicle, he said.

McCarthy said the men are suspects in about 20 burglaries in Pelham, Windham, Hudson, Danville, Sandown, Dracut and Tyngsborough.

Szczechura and Lavoie also are believed to have been involved in other unsolved burglaries, McCarthy said. There have been 35 daytime burglaries in Pelham, Hudson, Dracut and Tyngsborough alone, he said.

“The investigation is ongoing and we are following additional leads,” McCarthy said.

The arrests come only days after Pelham police Sgt. Mike Pickles warned of the rise in burglaries in town. Five were reported in the past month on Old Lawrence Road, Atwood Road, Applewood Drive, Bush Hill Road and Monticello Drive.

Police recommended that residents lock their doors, set alarms if they have them and report any unusual activity in their neighborhoods.

“I can’t remember a time when in this community and any other community when there has been as much burglary activity,” McCarthy said.

During most of the area burglaries, the thieves forced their way into the homes and stole jewelry and electronics, McCarthy said. Some of the stolen items were later recovered in area pawn shops, he said.

The increase in burglaries in the last six weeks prompted the formation of a regional task force with other police departments, McCarthy said.

He praised the detectives for their work.

“They did a great job,” McCarthy said. “Thanks to their efforts, they shut down a pretty significant operation.”

Szczechura was charged with being a fugitive from justice, burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary.

Lavoie was charged with burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary. The men may face additional charges and are the only suspects at this time, McCarthy said.

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