3 arrests linked to string of burglaries

MONTAGUE — Three area men were arrested on property destruction and attempted break-in charges early Thursday morning, though more charges may be filed as investigations continue.

Patrick A. Boyer, 26, of Westwood Drive, Greenfield, Michael Ryan Boyer, 23, listed as homeless, and Sean Rattigan, 19, of Coolidge Avenue, Turners Falls, were arraigned on charges of attempted breaking and entering, destruction of property, and possessing burglarious instruments Thursday in Greenfield District Court.

Though the three have only been charged in connection with an unsuccessful break-in attempt at Sirum’s Equipment, more charges may follow.

Police Chief Charles “Chip” Dodge is confident that the three are responsible for a recent rash of break-ins along the Pioneer Valley.

“Their M.O., the way they did things, was similar to break-ins in other towns, including Greenfield, Amherst, and Sunderland,” said Dodge. He said there had also been an attempted break-in at Rau’s Sunoco Service in Montague overnight.

The thieves’ means of operation involve cutting power to the buildings by removing their electric meters before breaking in, said Dodge.

That method was also reported in the burglary of Leader Home Center in Greenfield, discovered Tuesday morning. After the power was cut, an office window was opened, and thieves made off with the business’ safe, according to manager Jeff Kratz.

A Bernardston business was broken into twice this week, according to Bernardston Police Chief James Palmeri, though power to the building had not been cut.

Monday morning, he said, employees of Bob Cook Excavating and Asphalt noticed that a window had been jimmied open, and several things taken, including a large sum of cash.

“They chiselled their way into a safe, by smashing the concrete out of it,” said Palmeri. “It was reported that the safe contained several thousand dollars in cash.”

Also missing, he said, were credit cards, desktop computers, and miscellaneous items. Palmeri said there was an intact fingerprint lifted from the window, and two sets of shoe impressions were taken from the dirt outside. A preliminary comparison makes them look like a match to impressions taken from the area of Sirum’s equipment, though official testing on shoe- and fingerprints is pending, said Palmeri.

The suspects nearly went undiscovered Thursday morning, said Dodge.

“It boils down to Detective Laster’s instinct,” said the chief. “He checked on a car that could have been considered a disabled motor vehicle, and it paid off. Now, these three are locked up, and our towns and businesses are safer.”

The Boyers and Rattigan were arrested after Detective Lee Laster noticed an unoccupied car on the side of Federal Street in Millers Falls.

Laster approached the car, and shone his flashlight inside, revealing a plastic container with several rolls of coins inside, as well as an open backpack from which work gloves and screwdrivers protruded, according to his arrest report.

While examining the vehicle, two men, identified as Patrick Boyer and Rattigan, exited the woods, dressed all in black, and said they had left the vehicle because it overheated, wrote Laster. Though he had his suspicions, the detective let the two men go initially. According to his report, they drove up and down Federal Street, as if looking for someone. He notified other officers to keep an eye out for the vehicle.

Officer James Deery later pulled the vehicle over in the area of Millers Falls Road and South Lyman Street, for driving too close to the white line, wrote Laster. Deery told him the two men were acting very nervous.

Deery detained the two suspects while Laster left to check on Sirum’s Equipment, which is in the area from which the suspects had been seen walking, according to the report. While en route, he found a third man, later identified as Michael Boyer, wearing dark clothing and walking with a flashlight in hand.

Michael Boyer had two warrants out for his arrest, and was taken into custody and found to have two screwdrivers in his pockets, wrote Laster.

With the three suspects detained, police proceeded to Sirum’s, and conducted a walk-through with management. They found that no entry had been made, but the building’s exterior electric meter had been pulled out to interrupt power, wrote Laster.

Amherst Police also responded to the scene, because of a similar burglary reported that morning, and an officer gave Laster a security photo of a man inside the business, wearing clothes that matched one of the suspect’s.

Amherst Police will summon Michael Boyer to court on charges stemming from the break-in of Annie’s Garden and Gift Store. Police had responded to the Sunderland Road business after a burglar alarm went off at 10:46 Wednesday night.

The rolled coins, and the container they were in, were consistent with items taken from a break-in in Sunderland the same night, wrote Laster. Sunderland and state police were on the scene of that break-in, but left to respond to Montague after the three suspects were detained.

The vehicle was impounded by Montague Police, who applied for a search warrant so the vehicle could be inventoried in a safer location than the roadside, wrote Laster.

Amherst and Sunderland police did not return calls for comment Thursday.

The successful and attempted break-ins remain under investigation, and more charges may follow.

“This is definitely a huge break for us and surrounding towns,” said Dodge. “These guys were on a tear. There are a lot of towns breathing a sigh of relief, knowing that these guys are in custody.”

Even so, police are advising residents and businesses to lock their doors and keep an eye out for suspicious behavior.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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