A 16-year-old Lawrence boy was charged last week with stealing two high-powered rifles from a car parked outside an FBI agent’s house on Canterbury Street, police said.
The boy, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was charged with one count of larceny over $250, one count of larceny under $250 and two counts of breaking and entering into a motor vehicle during the nighttime.
Police believe he broke into several cars in the neighborhood, including one on nearby Lowell Street, as well as the agent’s unmarked SUV SWAT emergency response vehicle, which was parked in front of the agent’s house.
Last Thursday morning, Andover police detective Kevin Aufiero was able to lift a fingerprint off the Lowell Street car that had been broken into. Aufiero took the fingerprint to the crime lab in Danvers, where it was fed into a national database of fingerprints, according to Andover Commander Charles Heseltine.
A match came back linking the suspect in Lawrence to the crime.
At 2 a.m. last Friday, the firearms were recovered, Heseltine said. They were turned over to Andover detectives, FBI agents and state police. The stolen guns included a Colt M16-A1 Rifle and a HS Precision Pro-Series 2000 Sniper Rifle. Magazines with an unknown amount of ammunition were also stolen and recovered, police said.
At 11 a.m. last Friday, the 16-year-old juvenile turned himself in, with his father, to Andover police at the Lawrence Police Department, Heseltine said.
“We were there and met father and son at the door” of the Lawrence station, Heseltine said. “Then we brought him over here.”
The teen was interviewed by Andover police and the FBI for several hours before being taken to Lawrence District Court for arraignment.
“They are cooperating,” Heseltine said.
Heseltine said the thefts were part of a larger problem in Andover.
He said there were 80 car breaks in different parts of Andover since March of this year, a huge increase over previous years.
He said sometimes the perpetrators smash the window of a locked car and rifle through it, while other times the vehicles are unlocked.
In the case of the FBI agent’s Suburban, Heseltine said, there were “no obvious signs of a break. I can’t say if it was locked or unlocked. The car is being looked at by the FBI forensic team.”
He added that there are “potentially other suspects” and that the suspect was being interviewed in part to determine the answer to that question. “We don’t know if he was working alone or with others,” Heseltine said.
Nonetheless, he said, “everybody needs to make sure their cars are locked. People think it’s sleepy Andover.”
Heseltine said his department’s biggest concern with last week’s theft was that the stolen guns “were in the wrong hands.”
“The most important thing was to get them off the streets and out of the hands of anyone who could do any damage with them,” interim Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick said.
It is too early to say whether the agent responsible for the weapons will be disciplined, but an FBI spokesman says per agency protocol, an internal investigation will be conducted.
According to a statement by the FBI, “all federal law enforcement agents are authorized to carry weapons based on federal statutes.”
The statement went on to say that “the FBI’s policy allows active SWAT members to store firearms overnight in vehicles to facilitate readiness and operational needs. All losses of firearms are automatically the subject of an internal affairs investigation to determine whether the specific storage method complied with the FBI’s policy. Those investigations are conducted by officials from FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C.”