Is It a Wig?

This is a picture of a woman who walked into the TD BankNorth in Cupples Square last Thursday, handed a teller a note, and then made off with some cash.

Police say she had a slim build, and that they think the blonde hair might actually be a wig. She fled toward Pine Street as she left the bank.
If anyone knows who she is and calls Crimestoppers with that information, they could get $1,000 if their information leads to an arrest in the case, even if they choose to remain anonymous.
If you think you know who she is just call (978) 459-TIPS (8477).


Also on Twitter

I just now realized I never mentioned that anyone who is interested can also find me on Twitter.
I keep information there brief and mostly just provide links to the breaking news stories and blog entries I do.
So why check it out? Well, if you’re so interested in crime around Lowell that can’t go five minutes without catching updates, you can set Twitter to notify your phone everytime my twitter updates. If you have an internet-capable phone, you can basically stalk me while I work.

Middlesex County Register of Theft

Just when those of us in the newsroom thought we had heard the last of former Middlesex Register of Probate John Buonomo, an e-mail from Attorney General Martha Coakley arrives.
Press Conference: 4:15 p.m.
In case you forget who Buonomo is, he’s a 57-year-old Newton man who got caught doing THIS back in August, 2008.
That’s a cash machine in the basement of the Middlesex Register of Deeds building in Cambridge, and District Attorney Jerry Leone says that’s Buonomo opening it up to steal some cash. They caught him on camera over a dozen times.
That case is still pending, but it led Buonomo to resign on Sept. 7.
Well, the news from Coakley is that Buonomo was allegedly up to no good way before that.
Based on an investigation by Coakley’s Office and the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Buonomo has been charged with stealing ever since 2004.
Stealing how much? About $100,000, according to Coakley. (Guess he couldn’t find a cash machine that would change a $100,000 bill).
Coakley says Buonomo had two schemes.
In one, he wrote himself checks from his campaign committee, supposedly because he had used his own cash to buy postage for campaign materials. Not true, says Coakley. He was just pocketing the cash, she said.
In the second scheme, Buonomo would write checks to Piro Printing, in Somerville, for printing of campaign materials. Coakley says there weren’t real printing jobs, though.
Piro Printing owner, Marc Piro, of Wilmington, would cash Buonomo’s checks, keep $500 for himself, and give Buonomo back the rest of the cash, sometimes as much as $15,000. Coakley said this was tantamount to laundering the money.
Piro even provided invoices and paperwork, which Buonomo submitted to OCPF to try and cover his tracks.
Piro and Buonomo were both indicted Tuesday afternoon. Both men are charged with larceny over $250, personal use of campaign funds, and willfully misleading investigators. Buonomo is facing two counts each of those first to charges.
They will both be summonsed to court and arraigned at a date to be announced.
Here in the newsroom, we’d love to know just what Buonomo was spending all this money on, but Coakley wouldn’t say. She said all that matters to investigators is that it was used for personal expenses. Even if she knows what it was spent on, she’s not saying.
The folks at OCPF couldn’t tell me exactly how many fraudulent transactions there were between Piro and Buonomo, but here is a list of all the expenditures Buonomo reported in his campaign finance reports. If you’re wondering what the difference is, it’s that OCPF wouldn’t tell me whether all of these transactions were fraudulent.
Piro Printing Payments in Buonomo’s Campaign Finance Reports
And last but not least, if what I wrote in the paper today, plus the information here in the blog, isn’t enough to satisfy your curiosity about this case, here is the Audio of Coakley’s press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Protect Yourself
The link is to my story on 2008’s crime statistics, in case you made it here without reading that first. It’s plenty to think about, and I’ll probably write several follow ups on the information as time passes.
In light of all that bad news, I was reminded of how often Superintendent Lavallee encourages neighborhood groups and residents to help police. I’ve heard him say it a million times at neighborhood meetings.
No matter how good an officer walking the beat is, chances are he or she doesn’t know a neighborhood as well as the folks who have lived there for 30 years. And I’d imagine that most homeowners would rather prevent a break-in on their own, rather than need to call police at some point.
A good example came just last night. At 11:30 p.m., I heard Deputy Superintendent Arthur Ryan talking on police radio about an otherwise run of the mill alarm call that police had responded to.
I drove by to see what might have drawn the deputy out so late at night, when he was off-duty and on his own time.
It turns out it really was just a run of the mill call, but the alarm had gone off in a home owned by a friend of the deputy who is out of town. Since the homeowners are away I won’t be sharing the address where this happened.
A window in the house had been opened, but nothing inside was taken. It looked like a residential alarm had scared someone off just as they headed into the window. Ryan said that’s pretty normal. In all his years on the force, he has almost never seen a home with an audible alarm get broken into.
Once the alarm goes off, it’s just easier for a crook to move on and find a house that’s less protected.
The moral of all this is that in light of all this bad news regarding crime statistics in Lowell and the surrounding area last year, I fired off an e-mail to Officer Paul Corcoran at Lowell PD.
Paul has been working on safety issues for years now, and has a pamphlet and tips on every type of safety you can think of. He had several on preventing burglaries and theft.
If you’re worried about your home or business being burglarized, or just want to read some interesting stuff about how to do a little better should you ever witness a crime, grab some of the documents below. Paul put together all of them, and he’s been on the force since 1983, so I think it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.
A lot of it is a whole lot easier and cheaper than having an alarm system installed. There’s some very interesting and easy stuff we could all do too.
For instance, Paul recommends that if you see a crime occurring you should take note of the suspect’s shoes.
“Sometimes a criminal will change their clothes but they will not change their shoes,” Paul notes.
Burglary Prevention
Business Burglary Prevention
Homeowner Safety Quiz
Got a GPS in your car? Want to keep it? Read this one.
How To Be a Good Witness
Robbery Kit for Business Owners
Good luck.

Warmer Weather

I always get a little antsy during the first few weekends when the weather gets warmer in the Spring.
People tend to get out of their houses more and bump into each other on the street. It can lead to violence when people have had issues all winter and finally bump into each other, or when gangs start hanging out on porches, or in visible places where they see guys from other gangs.
City police are out on motorcycles today, and they’re usually watching for trouble this time of year.
It’s been quiet so far though. (knock on wood). Superintendent Lavallee says all is quiet on the western front.
So far today, a two-car accident just took out a small red light at Rock and Fletcher streets, but no one got hurt, and there are plenty of other red lights there.
Police are on East Merrimack Street now checking into a report of a guy with a gun, but it sounds like they’re not finding much. No gunshots or anything. If you see all the commotion though, that’s what it’s all about.
The report was a man threatening his neighbor with a gun, but the woman who was supposedly threatened just told police the guy didn’t have a gun. (a third-party had called 911).

Dodge Charger charges toward cop

Cops have good memories. Seconds after a bolo was issued at 10:02 look for a gray or silver Dodge Charger with Pennsylvania tags believed headed down Route 110 that is wanted for trying to run down a Lawrence police officer, a Lowell cop said he remembered the car. He stopped it a couple of months ago and remembered it was a rental car and that the driver lived on Stackpole Street. Just as interesting was that the driver had a large amount of cash on him.

Shoplifting Central

Salem, N.H., is a great haven for shoplifters, with plenty of stores and easy highway access.
But, a place to steal shrimp?
Four times this month, someone stole frozen shrimp from the Market Basket, more than $500 total. Police say the store finally got their man, when they confronted 46-year-old John Silvera of Methuen. Employees apparently tried to stop Silvera, who accosted a store manager in an escape attempt. He was arrested on charges of shoplifting, simple assault and being a fugitive from justice. Silvera was arraigned and held on $100,000 bail.
Police say Silvera was wanted in Oklahoma on a charge of drug trafficking and in Massachusetts on a larceny charge.
In other five-finger-discount news, police arrested a Dracut woman at Macy’s. Workers said the woman’s 3-year-old daughter was seen pushing a stroller with $765 in stolen merchandise hidden in it. Yashoda Sukhavasi, 30, was released on $1,000 bail. The girl was released to her father’s custody.