SOUTHWICK, Mass. (WGGB) — A recent rash of break ins has plagued Western Massachusetts.
he towns of Hadley, Amherst, Easthampton, Southampton and Northampton have all been targeted.
Yesterday, police were able to apprehend a suspect in at least one of those breaks and it was good old fashioned police work that kick started the case.
On Thursday, a vigilant neighbor in Southwick heard a house alarm going off across the street and went to investigate.
They observed a man rushing around a grey van and speeding out of the driveway. The neighbor was able to get almost a full license plate number and a description of the vehicle and suspect.
“The officers responded to the scene and immediately established that a breaking and entering had occurred at that residence,” said Lieutenant David Ricardi of the Southwick Police Department.
The suspect had left behind a dirty shoe print on the door which he kicked in.
Less than an hour later, the vehicle was stopped in Amherst, and the suspect arrested after his shoe treads were matched to those left on the victim’s front door.
Peter Jeffs, 51, and a resident of Amherst faces multiple charges, but that could be just the beginning for Jeffs.
“We believe that this individual is responsible for a number of breaks, and I can’t speak for the other departments but it looks like he is the person responsible for breaks in probably half a dozen communities that we know of now,” explained Lt. Ricardi.
While good communication and cooperation between police departments lead to the apprehension of the suspect, police are actually crediting a neighbor with this arrest.
As Lt. Ricardi says, “he was absolutely crucial. If it wasn’t for him we’d still be following up a lot of leads today and who knows if we would have ever been able to get to the bottom of it.”
Jeffs was arraigned this morning in Westfield District Court where he was released on $2,000 personal surety.
Police say that residents should be aware there’s still a risk for more break ins. They recommend homeowners take caution when leaving their homes. The biggest risk is to homes that look unoccupied.
They suggest you leave a car out, make sure you collect newspapers and mail, leave lights on and even leave a radio or television on to deter a would be robber.