Stubborn safe strikes back at thieves' SUV
Unable to pry the safe open, thieves instead lugged a thousand-pound safe from a Westport business last Thursday in a borrowed SUV and then tried without success to open it elsewhere.
Later, a recently hired employee was arrested and police are seeking his alleged accomplices.
Westport Detective Jeff Majewski said that on Thursday, April 25, at approximately 7:30 a.m., several police officers responded to a break-in at Bristol County Precast located at 23 Alberto Drive in Westport. The company has an office with an attached garage and both areas had been broken into.
A large (approximately 4 feet by 3 feet)) 1,000-pound safe had been taken during the crime which had occurred overnight.
Police say the culprits had tried to pry the safe open on the property but were unsuccessful. They then called a friend with an SUV and managed to tip the safe inside, smashing the vehicle' rear window in the process. Investigators found fragments of tinted glass on the ground where the safe had been taken from the building and issued a broadcast to area departments to be on the lookout for an SUV with a broken rear window.
This whole adventure "actually wound up costing them a good deal of money," Det. Majewski said, including replacement of the rear window, and gasoline consumed driving from place to place with the big safe.
Detectives processed the scene and several items were collected including fingerprints and footprints. At around 11 a.m., Swansea Police sent a bulletin to area departments reporting that they had responded to a Sharps Lot Road address for a report of three people in an SUV with a shattered rear window trying to open a 4-foot safe. When police arrived, the vehicle was gone, but Swansea police officer Gary White remained in the area to investigate and learned the SUV's registration plate number from an alert neighbor..
The plate's owner came back to a Joseph Drive Fall River address. Fall River Police assisted Westport Detectives and followed the vehicle which later headed into New Bedford. Fall River officer Steve Roseberry provided Westport detectives with information that led detectives to a Dartmouth woman who had information about the SUV’s occupants.
Detectives located the SUV at a glass shop on Ashley Boulevard in New Bedford where two people were interviewed. Both provided investigators with information about the break-in, theft of the safe, and the timeline from Swansea back to Fall River where the safe was located along a wooded area near the Fall River Country Club off North Main Street. Det. Majewski said that the suspects had placed the safe along railroad tracks near the country club’s driveway.
There they went at it again with sledge hammers, a pry bar and chisels. Although badly damaged, the safe had not been breeched.
Since they had broken the safe's handle, a locksmith had to be hired later. It took him a half hour with a special drill to get it open — all of the contents, including cash and company records were intact. "It was obviously a high quality safe," the detective said.
As a result of the probe, a recently hired Precast employee was arrested at the property before the end of his workday.
"In fact he had watched investigators during the entire morning while the scene was processed," Det. Majewski said.
Raymond J. Prevost, 21 of 1914 North Main Street, apartment 2 west in Fall River was arrested by Westport detectives. He was charged with breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony, malicious damage over $250. larceny over $250, and conspiracy to commit those crimes. He was held on $5,000 cash bail and he was arraigned in Fall River Second District Court. His cooperation with investigators led them to additional evidence that implicated other accomplices, including a North Main Street (Fall River) man and woman. The incident is still under investigation.
Success in this case was a result of "absolutely persistent police work and a complete lack of any luck on the part of the thieves," Det. Majewski said.
Anyone who has information is asked to contact Detective Jeff Majewski at (508) 636-1122.