Northwood police nab four suspected in burglaries, vandalism
Acting on a phone tip about the sale of stolen knives, the Northwood police have cracked a case involving two young men and two teens, accused of burglarizing two local businesses and vandalizing vehicles at the town’s Department of Public Works.
Police Chief Glen Drolet said yesterday the arrests occurred Friday, after the police found stolen items in local residences and a wooded area in town.
Taken into custody were Northwood residents Jonathan Fitts, 21, Tim Tuttle, 18, Devin Barrett, 17, and Travis Gillcreast, 17, of Epsom.
The four were charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and criminal mischief, all felonies, in crimes dating back to October, starting with a break-in at the Northwood Mobil.
There, Drolet said, an alarm quickly scared off the suspects, giving them time to steal just two drinks.
Next, on Dec. 12, the police said the four broke into the public works building, a garage measuring about 40 by 80 feet, according to Jim Wilson, the town’s road agent. The police estimated that about $3,000 worth of damage was caused to the three town vehicles, which included a one-ton dump truck and two six-wheel plows.
“There was spray-painting on the wall and floor,” Drolet said. “Headlights on the plow trucks were spray-painted, warning lights were spray-painted black, mirrors were smashed and a fire extinguisher was expelled into one of the trucks. And hydraulic hoses for the plows were severed.”
Wilson said it took his department two to three days to get his fleet back in gear. He said a mechanic was needed to rewire the electrical parts on the plows, but the biggest headache was cleaning up the white chemical agent expelled from the fire extinguisher.
“When I first saw what happened, I thought maybe it was just kids playing around,” Wilson said. “Then I saw that they sprayed the fire extinguisher inside the truck. That was a costly thing, about $1,200 to clean the inside of the cab. The powder is very corrosive when it gets damp, and you pretty much have to take a lot of the cab apart and vacuum all of it out and blow it all out. It’s time consuming.”
Wilson said electronic equipment had been stolen from the public works office earlier last year, and the recent vandalism pushed the town to pay for an alarm system, installed last week.
“I’ve been working here for 20 years,” Wilson said. “We never had an alarm because we never had a break-in.”
The final incident in the string of three tied to the foursome happened Dec. 29, Drolet said, with the break-in at Fiefield’s Military Surplus. Martial arts weapons such as nunchuks and throwing stars, plus Ghillie Suits and knives were stolen.
Drolet said his department later received a phone call from a tipster who knew something about the sale of some of the stolen knives.
“Upon the officers’ arrival to that call, one of the knives that was identified from the surplus store was identified,” Drolet said. “Based on that, the officers were able to develop leads and some suspects, and they all panned out.”
Drolet said the investigation led the police to several Northwood homes; he declined to comment how they were connected to the suspects. He also said a bag of stolen items was found in the woods of Northwood.
“Ninety-five percent of the items have been recovered,” Drolet said. “They were in different locations, where they had hid them through the town.”
All four suspects were released on bond and will appear at Candia’s district court March 4.