“I was more than just little surprised that it happened right downtown,” Frank Davis said of a late night attempt to hot-wire his Ford van. “I was shocked that someone tried it out in the open, under the street lights and all.”
Davis is one of three people in the two-block business district who had their vehicles damaged Jan. 28 and 29 in an attempt to get them started. Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke said he thought the attempts were aimed at stealing the vehicles rather than stealing anything that was in them.
Theft attempts also were made on pickups belonging to Matt Nellans and John Topham, both of whom live near the business district on Walnut Street.
“It may have been someone wanting to get out of town,” Burke said. “The vehicle owners had personal items like tools and equipment that could have easily been stolen and sold. But all of that was ignored and the thief or thieves did quite a bit of damage trying to get to the wiring to get them started.”
The steering column on Davis’s van was torn apart. He was awaiting an estimate on the cost to repair it.
“The van was unlocked, parked in front of the store we live over,” he said. “We never heard a thing and our dog never barked.”
Davis said that since he found the damage on the morning of Jan. 28, he has heard of several other people who have had things stolen or have seen an unknown man hanging around their property late at night or toward dawn.
“My advice to people would be to lock their cars and trucks and their front doors, have insurance, and maybe invest in security cameras,” Davis said. “We got careless about locking up, but it won’t happen again.”
Burke also said securing one’s property is important.
“We almost always see an increase in these types of crimes when the economy is bad and unemployment is high,” he said. “Property owners need to be cautious.”
Burke encouraged anyone who becomes the victim of criminal or suspicious behavior to contact law enforcement as soon as possible, not wait several days to turn in the information.
“People should also know that if they call the police station number and get a recording, they can hang up and dial 911 to report something going on in their neighborhood or at their home,” he said.
To report criminal or suspicious activity, call Peabody Police Department at (620) 983-2133.