EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 19, 2013

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — JEERS to Christmas grinches, who are stealing packages from people’s doorsteps.

This is the busiest week for package deliveries — and that is making easy pickings for thieves. Haverhill police Lt. Robert Pistone told our reporter that in the last two weeks, his department has had a half-dozen reports of package thefts.

“At this time of year, people do more online shopping and as a result are having packages delivered to their homes,” Pistone told reporter Mike LaBella. “In many cases a signature is not required and the package is simply left on a porch or other area.”

Delivery services make an effort to leave packages in inconspicuous locations. But with so many deliveries — and wily thieves on the prowl — there is still a risk. Pistone reports that, last summer, package thieves were following a parcel carrier as he made deliveries. They eventually were caught.

“When the officers made the arrests, there was a dumpster outside of their (suspect’s) apartment building that had empty boxes of items they’d stolen,” Pistone said.

Police recommend arranging to have packages delivered to a place where someone can accept it, such as a package shipping/delivery center.

“If possible, don’t have your package left at your doorstep as it does invite a crime of opportunity,” Pistone said. “The criminal element does know that at this time of year a lot of packages are being delivered.”

It’s too bad that some are so lacking in Christmas spirit — or even basic decency — that they would steal gifts intended for others.

CHEERS to three educational institutions for making basic through advanced college degrees available at one site in Lawrence.

Northern Essex Community College formed a partnership with Cambridge College and Suffolk University to offer associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from a single facility at Riverwalk on Merrimack Street. The schools will occupy the third floor of Building 9, home to 20 classrooms, five computer labs, conference rooms and staff offices.

The goal is to make Lawrence a “college town,” according to Northern Essex President Lane Glenn.

“When a city has a college, it not only educates residents, but it helps create a thriving economy and a wonderful place to live,” he said.

The three schools combine to offer a range of degree options to area residents. Northern Essex offers associate’s degrees in criminal justice, deaf studies, health, performing arts, technology and engineering. Cambridge College offers bachelor’s degrees in psychology, human services and management. Cambridge also offers master’s degrees in education, management, psychology and counseling, and certificate programs in alcohol and drug counseling and trauma studies. Suffolk University provides master’s degrees in accounting, finance and taxation, as well as joint degrees with the college of arts and sciences and the law school.

“It helps change people’s perspective about the city,” said George Moriarty, executive director at the Center for Corporate and Community Education at Northern Essex, which helped facilitate the partnership. “It shows that Lawrence is proactive and a vibrant community and employers are going to start thinking about sending their employees here.”

Sal Lupoli, who owns the Riverwalk complex and founded the Sal’s Pizza restaurant chain, knows the importance of education. He earned his master’s degree in business administration in 2012 while running his business interests. Lupoli plans to open the Merrimack Valley Innovation Center where the schools are located. The center will help mentor students interested in starting their own businesses.

Lupoli told reporter Yadira Betances that when he was planning the Riverwalk project, many people cautioned him about it — reminding him of Lawrence’s reputation for crime, poverty and unemployment.

Lupoli’s answer: “How long does someone or something need to suffer before they get an opportunity?”

Kudos to the three colleges and Lupoli for expanding those opportunities for students in Lawrence.