POLICE LOG: Craigslist file cabinet scam foiled

Excerpts from the Marblehead police log of Tuesday, Aug. 29 through Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. Consistent with state law, Marblehead Police have adopted a policy of not providing to media outlets reports related to incidents related to domestic violence, juveniles and matters that remain under investigation.

Aug. 29

9:11 p.m. — Officer Dean Peralta was dispatched to South Street following a report of alleged damage to property. Upon arrival, Peralta was greeted by the homeowner. Peralta observed a wooden fence approximately 4 feet high and 4 feet long bent over. The fence had been bolted to two metal stakes, which were cemented into the ground; these stakes were also bent. The damage suggested considerable force had been used, likely by a vehicle backing into the fence. Scrape marks were visible on the damaged fence.   

The homeowner indicated that the alleged incident could have occurred anytime between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. and mentioned they did not have any security cameras. Peralta quickly canvassed the neighborhood and found no visible cameras on nearby houses, though conditions were dark and foggy at the time.

Two packages were found on the homeowner’s front door, and the homeowner was advised to check their delivery times. Peralta indicated that he would check with neighbors during daylight for the presence of any security cameras. The report was to be forwarded to detectives for further investigation.

Aug. 31  

9:22 a.m. — Officer Timothy Morley was dispatched to speak via telephone with a resident who reported a suspicious event involving an unknown caller. The resident received a call from a number and heard the phrase, “Do you have a minute to talk?” Believing the individual might be someone they knew, the resident answered “yes,” at which point the call abruptly ended.

Recognizing the potential for a scam aiming to solicit affirmative responses, the resident became concerned. Morley advised the resident to contact their bank for any necessary security measures concerning credit monitoring and securing finances. At the time of the report, the resident had not lost any money and had only had this single interaction with the unknown caller. There were no further concerns.

1:30 p.m. — Officer Douglas Mills was dispatched to the police station’s lobby at approximately 1:30 p.m. to take a report on an attempted Craigslist scam. Upon arrival, Mills was met by the reporting party, who detailed an experience with a suspicious individual interested in purchasing two filing cabinets they had listed on Craigslist for $160 each.

The reporting party stated they were contacted by an individual using the name “Harry Pritchard.” This individual offered to send a cashier’s check for the value of the items plus an additional $50 as a “filing fee.” The reporting party declined the extra fee, insisting on just the selling price for the items. Subsequently, they received a cashier’s check for $1,980 — well beyond the original asking price.

Recognizing the transaction as an alleged scam, the reporting party informed the individual that the items were no longer available and that they were aware of the scam. The individual then blocked the reporting party’s number. At the time of the report, the reporting party had not lost any money.

Mills advised the reporting party to block the individual’s number and report the attempted scam to Craigslist. The cashier’s check was handed over to the CID (Criminal Investigation Division), and an attempt to trace the phone number returned no results, indicating a likely fake name or spoofed number. The incident remains open for further investigation.

Sept. 1

11:14 a.m. — Officer Luke Peters was dispatched to Old North Church on Washington Street to investigate a report of alleged property damage. Upon arrival, Peters was met by the property manager who informed him that a stone wall on the front side of the church had been damaged. Peters observed that the wall appeared to have been struck by a motor vehicle. Photos of the damage were attached to the report.

The property manager stated that when he left the church around 12:30 p.m. the previous day, the wall had been intact. No surveillance cameras were found in the area during a brief canvas. The case has been forwarded to CID (Criminal Investigation Division) for further investigation. The incident remains open and is under the purview of Peters.

1:24 p.m. — Officer Michael Farewell, alongside Officer Nicholas Fratini, was dispatched to the intersection of Maple and Tedesco streets for a reported three-car motor vehicle crash. Upon arrival, officers observed three vehicles with varying degrees of damage. Farewell and Fratini then spoke with the involved parties. One adult male operating a GMC Terrain, and another adult female driving a Subaru Outback, were both identified, along with two juveniles operating and accompanying in a Toyota Tacoma. All vehicles had Massachusetts registrations.

According to the individuals, they were stopped at a red signal at the intersection when the GMC Terrain, driven by the adult male, failed to stop in time and allegedly rear-ended the Toyota Tacoma, which in turn caused the Tacoma to strike the Subaru Outback.

The adult male operating the GMC Terrain confirmed that he did not have enough time to stop and collided with the Toyota Tacoma. Tow services were requested for the inoperable GMC Terrain. All parties’ licenses were verified, and all were seen by Marblehead Fire and Atlantic EMS as a precautionary measure. No one sought additional medical care.

All involved parties exchanged license and registration information for insurance purposes and left the scene. Farewell then cleared the scene after tow services took custody of the damaged GMC Terrain.

Sept. 2  

11:18 a.m. — Officer Luke Peters was dispatched to a Green Street home concerning a report of a possible stolen vehicle. Upon arrival, Peters met two adult females who resided at the location. One of them explained that she had allowed an acquaintance, whom she had met years ago in rehab, to stay overnight at her residence. They had allowed the acquaintance to use their 2008 Subaru Outback for what was supposed to be a brief period in the morning, primarily to attend a methadone clinic and move into her mother’s house.

Text messages revealed that the residents had warned the acquaintance to return the vehicle, or they would report it as stolen. A possible location was provided in the messages, and Salem Police Department was informed to check the area.

Around 2:15 p.m., one of the residents called Peters to inform that they had located the acquaintance and the missing vehicle in Salem. The acquaintance had been moving into her mother’s house and explained that she hadn’t seen the text messages due to phone trouble. The keys and the vehicle were returned, and the residents did not wish to press any charges.

Sept. 3

4 p.m. — Officer Michael Farewell was dispatched to the station lobby. He spoke to an 87-year-old female resident. The woman reported an alleged incident in the Terry’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream’s parking lot. The woman was in her vehicle with her 86-year-old friend when a 57-year-old man approached them in an unknown vehicle and honked his horn at them.  

The man, claiming to be the property owner, placed a yellow violation sticker on the woman’s vehicle and then departed. Concerned about potential legal repercussions, the woman sought clarification from the police.

Farewell inspected the vehicle and confirmed the presence of a yellow violation sticker on the rear window, indicating illegal parking and potential towing. He assured the woman that only the police department has the authority to issue tickets. He also provided advice on how to remove the sticker using warm soapy water and a razor blade. The woman was satisfied with this information and departed.

Sept. 4   

12:29 a.m. — Officer Charles Sweeney was dispatched to the front lobby of the station to assist a 72-year-old female resident. The woman reported ongoing issues with her 52-year-old female neighbor. According to the complainant, she had been confronted by her neighbor while standing in front of her house on Lee Street. The neighbor accused the woman of talking about her behind her back and mentioned getting a lawyer involved.

Sweeney advised the woman on how to document incidents involving her neighbor and informed her about the process for applying for a harassment prevention order at Lynn District Court. The woman expressed satisfaction with the advice and indicated she would report any future problematic interactions with her neighbor.

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