“Hello Ed. Just wanted to let you know my truck was broken into last night. They stole some very expensive tools. “This text message arrived on my cell phone on Saturday morning. It was sent by my upstairs neighbor, a self-employed plumber who parks his work vehicle in our driveway overnight.
This was the second time he and his wife had been victims. Last winter, in the middle of the night, three men broke into their SUV, wired it, and drove off. The stolen car was found a few miles away the next day.
I told my neighbor that I would check to see if our surveillance cameras captured anything of the crime as the video recorded the three men who stole his wife’s vehicle. I suspected it might have been that hideous threesome again, or maybe even a passing criminal that spotted the plumber’s van and decided to score a quick hit to steal something of value.
Playing the night video, which started at midnight and continued in the first light around 4:45 a.m., was tedious. It’s usually quiet here in the early hours of the morning, with the occasional car passing by and the rapid passing of a neighborhood coyote that the cameras caught the night before.
Then, around 2:40 a.m., the first sign of movement came in the shadow of the sidewalk next door, the sight of a man walking slowly down the street. As a tall, lanky figure, he wore a flat backpack, black and white sneakers and a T-shirt with some sort of lettering. He seemed to be limping or shuffling and obviously in no hurry to get where he wanted.
But it soon became clear that he was up to no good, a thief in the night.
He stopped at every parked car, peered into windows and rattled the door handles. He paused for a while at the driveway next door and peered into the family car parked in the driveway. And then he went on to see a pickup truck and then an SUV on my doorstep.
When he found an unlocked door, he climbed to the passenger side and closed the door behind him. I suspect he rummaged through the glove box, wallet, and anything else that might contain anything of value. He was inside for three or four minutes and then showed up to continue his criminal mission in our driveway.
My neighbor’s truck was parked there and it was filled with valuable plumbing tools and supplies. The man was just moving out of range of the cameras and apparently spent some time opening the side door before returning to the sidewalk where he opened the back door. He was only in the truck for three or four minutes, and when he came out his backpack and a second bag were filled, no doubt with the expensive sanitary kit he had just taken from the truck.
The thief walked slowly to the middle of the street, and as he tried to adjust the heavy bags on his back and shoulders, a passing car drove by and bathed him in its headlights. But he went unnoticed. Gradually he straightened up, maybe 30 or 40 pounds on his back, and slowly walked back to where he came from.
All of this activity was recorded on surveillance cameras between 2:40 a.m. and 3:15 a.m. on Saturday morning, July 25th. The way the criminal moved showed that he had no concerns about being caught. He just set off under cover of darkness.
The grainy images on the security video show neither details of his face nor the lettering on his shirt. But someone who knows him may recognize him by his slow, uneven gait, thin, lanky body, or the unusual appearance of his two-tone sneakers.
The guess here is this isn’t the first time this night walker has stolen the neighborhood, and it won’t be the last. Knowing that such activities take place outside of our homes while we sleep can be daunting. It’s a reminder to lock doors – to your house, to your cars, and vans – and not to leave anything valuable in your vehicles.
The Boston police are investigating the incident.
Statistics compiled and published by the Boston Police Department show that vehicle thefts – one of several categories of crime recorded by the authorities from year to year – have so far increased significantly in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 compared to the previous year 420 more cases of car break-ins this year. In District C-11, where the crime took place last weekend, there was an increase from 256 last year to 284 this year. In B-3, which includes parts of Dorchester and Mattapan, the number increased from 109 to 162 as of July 26th.
Overall, crime in Part 1 in Boston has decreased by 3 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the BPD. A major exception is the murders, which rose from 23 last year (as of July 26) to 32 in 2020.