LAWRENCE — A New Hampshire horseshoe farrier said to be a major player in numerous ATM and business break-ins throughout New England was arrested last night in the city's Prospect Hill neighborhood, police said.
David Barker, 31, of Fremont was charged on a warrant out of Pelham, N.H., for the theft of an ATM, cash register and safe from a store in that community last summer.
Barker is among two dozen people, including area gang members, said to be responsible for a rash of thefts involving ATMs and businesses from Maine to Connecticut in the past two years, according to police.
The string of thefts prompted area police to organize a regional task force. Lawrence police Chief John Romero said there have been as many as 50 such thefts, including the recent heist of an ATM machine at Lawrence District Court and a similar theft of a cash machine from a Methuen bank.
When asked if Barker was a suspect in any Lawrence thefts, Romero described him as a "person of interest in Lawrence and by other local law enforcement agencies."
"This arrest is significant in light of the fact that New England has been plagued with ATM and commercial breaks involving safes for several years now," Romero said.
The police bulletin naming Barker was distributed to towns and cities in Southern New Hampshire and the Merrimack Valley.
The report warned police that the ATM thefts often occur on the midnight shift, around roll call. Other crimes are staged beforehand to throw off officers. Alarms are cut, and scanners, cell phones and two-way radios are often used to track patrolmen as they respond, according to a police report.
In Pelham, Barker is charged on a warrant for criminal mischief and burglary after a break-in at 5:30 a.m. July 23 at Ray's Stateline on Mammoth Road.
A hole was pried in the store roof and an alarm ripped from a wall. After destroying two surveillance cameras, Barker took more than $23,000 stashed in two registers, a safe and an ATM, said police.
The ATM, at the back of the store, was knocked over and ripped open, according to a police report.
Barker has a criminal record in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts that included theft, burglary and larceny charges, according to a police report.
Barker, who was born in Methuen, now lives at 25 Whittier Drive in Fremont. After his arrest last night, he listed his occupation on a booking slip as a farrier for Barker Horseshoeing.
Lawrence Detective Carl Farrington arrested Barker at 6:33 p.m. on Woodland Street.