Watch Your Wheels

Lowell Police are urging everyone to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, particularly in the overnight hours, because 11 cars across the city have had their tires and rims removed by thieves since Oct. 29.

The thieves have hit in all neighborhoods, and appear to target Hondas and Acuras. So far they’ve hit 8 Hondas, and 3 Acuras, according to Capt. Randall Humphrey. I think one of my neighbors got hit. I noticed one of the family’s cars in the driveway this week with no tires or rims.

Humphrey said the thieves usually strike between 2 and 5:30 a.m.

“Police are asking the citizens of Lowell to be extra vigilant in protecting their vehicles,” Humphrey wrote.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.



Jogger Sexually Assaulted in Lowell

Police haven’t released a million details about this incident, because of its nature as a sexual assault, but they are concerned enough that I got a call on my cell phone about it Friday night since police want to make residents aware.
Yesterday at 10 a.m., police responded to a 911 call from the UMass-Lowell parking garage on Pawtucket Street and met a 26-year-old Lowell woman who reported she had just been sexually assaulted on the Riverwalk.
The woman was taken to Lowell General Hospital, where she told investigators she was out for her morning run and was on the walkway behind LeLacheur Park when she was grabbed from behind and sexually assaulted.
The woman was eventually able to escape and got help from another person in the area.
The woman described her attacker as a white or light-skinned Hispanic male, 18 to 25 years old, clean shaven, with dark hair and jeans.
If anyone knows anything about this assault, or believes they may know who a suspect is, PLEASE call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.
I should note that this type of assault is, thankfully, very rare in Lowell. The last such incident, in which someone was sexually assaulted by a person not already known to them, was in September of last year when a 43-year-old woman was raped in the Lowell Cemetery off Lawrence Street.
That case remains unsolved.
The vast majority of sexual assaults in Lowell are committed by suspects known to their victim. There were 51 forcible rapes reported in Lowell in 2010, a 6 percent increase from 48 reported in 2009.
Capt. Jack Webb, who is leading the investigation into this assault, noted that no one should panic about this, but that he certainly wants people to be aware that it happened, and certainly encourages everyone in the city to be careful.
“As when people are out and about anywhere, they should be aware of their surroundings and be careful,” Jack told me tonight. “If you’re going to go out walking or running in a secluded area, it might be a good idea to do it with a friend.”

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.

Move Over

So, as of last Sunday, all of us who drive could be looking at a $100 fine if
we don’t change lanes to create some space for police cruisers, fire trucks, ambulances,
tow trucks or MassHighway maintenance crews that park along state highways to
do their jobs.

An editor here made an observation the other night about the potential for
accidents when people see an emergency vehicle on the shoulder and then change
lanes without looking, so it’s definitely worth noting that the new law requires
ONLY that you change lanes "if it is safe to do so."
In other words, if you have to cut someone off in order to change lanes, it
is also legal to just slow down and stay in the lane you are in.

Smashed auto parked in the median of I-495 in Tewksbury

Having been on a ride-along with the State Police and having parked on the
shoulder or in the median of plenty of interstates while covering accidents,
I can tell you that these emergency responders aren’t kidding when they say
it can be nerve-wracking to be standing there when a big SUV or a tractor-trailer
rips past you at 70 miles an hour just a few feet away in the closest travel

If you’ve ever changed a tire on your car while people flew past you on the
interstate, you’ve probably felt that burst of wind that feels like a shock
wave when a tractor-trailer passes. It’s nerve wracking, at least to me.

So, it’s pretty simple really. Change lanes if you can, and slow down if you
can’t change lanes.

If the courtesy of it doesn’t motive you, maybe this will.

It’s a picture I took in May of 2006 after this car struck a cruiser that was
parked in the median of I-495 in Tewksbury with its lights on.
I’m glad I wasn’t in that car. And I’d like to make sure my car never looks
quite like this.

There were only minor injuries in that accident too, so be aware that it’s
on the light side of what can happen when you hit a parked police cruiser while
going full-speed on the highway.