Since early June police have been looking for an alleged thief caught on camera stealing several items from a Berlin residence. Homeowner Albie Borne says the crook took priceless heirlooms his family can't replace.
"This guy should be sent away. Right now he's probably breaking in someone else's house some other place," Borne said.
Police say Borne was right. The alleged thief has been linked to a half dozen other daytime break-ins in Central Vermont. But thanks to Borne's home surveillance cameras, Berlin police now know who he is.
"The suspect's name is Richard Morrell," Berlin Police Ofc. Chris Alting said.
The 40-year-old Massachusetts man was arrested in Lebanon, N.H., last week in connection with a string of burglaries in the Upper Valley. Police describe him as a career criminal and ripping folks off was his full-time job. Turns out he was busier than police thought.
"This fellow followed 89. He used it as an avenue, as an expressway that he could steal from. And he did it from Bow, Grantham, Lebanon, Enfield and as far north as Berlin," Lebanon Police Chief Jim Alexander said.
Police say Morrell has relatives in Burlington and would travel from Massachusetts to Vermont targeting rural homes. The brazen thief, with a history of burglary convictions in Vermont, Florida and New York, didn't care if he was caught on camera.
"This guy came up here-- he knew there was a security system. In four minutes he smashed and grabbed; in and out," Borne said.
"It would have been very tough to link him to any of this stuff if we did not have the images from the Bornes' residence. That was a key piece to being able to solve this," Alting said.
Police say Morrell's criminal associates had no problem identifying him from the images.
In most burglary cases the victims will never see their stolen items again. Luckily, Berlin police were able to recover 50 items from the suspect and return them to the Borne family. What they haven't gotten back is a jewelry box. But police say they've found it at a pawn shop in Massachusetts-- owned by the suspect's wife.
"I think she was blindsided by what happened here," Alting said.
Police say she's cooperating with the investigation and they hope to return more of Morrell's stolen goods to their rightful owners.
Lebanon police say their evidence room is packed with stolen goods belonging to Vermont and New Hampshire residents. Call police if you believe you believe you were targeted. Morrell is being held by police in Massachusetts. His last Vermont burglary conviction was in March.
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