Student call leads to arrest

On Friday night, Richard G. Jones, a 27-year-old resident of North Adams, was arrested by the Williamstown Police Department (WPD) after being caught breaking into Dodd House. The arrest occurred after a call came into Campus Safety and Security at 10:32 p.m. reporting a suspicious person in Dodd. Three Security officers reported immediately to the scene while six other officers drove to Dodd from Greylock Hall where they had been stationed during an a capella concert.

Jones was reported to be on the third floor and wearing a backpack when Security officers found him. Officer Erik Kristensen was the first on the scene and was joined by other officers including Operations Supervisor Shaun Lennon, who began questioning Jones as to the contents of the backpack. “In about one motion, he pulled the backpack off and said, ‘Laptops,’” said Robert Bleau, a Security officer.

Inside the backpack were three laptops, one iPhone and multiple laptop chargers. WPD then arrived and placed Jones under arrest for breaking and entering. Jones was held in WPD custody over the weekend with bail set at $10,000. Once Jones was removed from the premises, Security officers went door-to-door in Dodd, asking all residents present if they were missing any electronics. After a search  of the house, Security found a broken window in the basement on the east side of the dorm through which Jones had entered the building.

This break-in followed on the heels of several other local break-ins, including one in Sewall House – also in Dodd neighborhood – two in a business on Water St. and one on Hoxey St. at the ABC House. Four laptops were stolen from Sewall House last weekend, and although the individual who stole them was unidentified at the time, Security was aware that it was not a student theft, as a window on the first floor was identified as the entry point. It was after this break-in that  Bleau sent an e-mail to the Baxter Fellows of Dodd neighborhood. The e-mail was intended to be forwarded to all on-campus residents in the neighborhood to warn them about the break-ins in an attempt to prevent further thefts.

While Jones denied any relation to these other break-ins when initially interrogated, he later admitted that he and two other men were involved in all of the previous break-ins. The Williamstown crimes were also connected to several incidences of breaking and entering in North Adams, specifically at MCLA.

One of these individuals, Lance C. Latimer, a 32-year-old resident of North Adams, was arrested at his home after Sergeant Scott McGowen of WPD obtained an arrest warrant for him in the Northern Berkshire District Court. The other unnamed individual involved in the crimes has not yet been apprehended. “I have obtained a second arrest warrant for another individual who at this time remains at large,” McGowen said. “This person has been charged with a significant number of felonies.”

Jones has been charged with five counts of breaking and entering during the nighttime, 10 counts of larceny of over $250 each, five counts of larceny from a building, two counts of trespassing, one count of possession of burglarious instruments and one count of malicious destruction to property under $250. All of the charges except malicious destruction to property under $250 are felonies; the last charge is a misdemeanor. “Presently, Mr. Jones is being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction after his right to bail was revoked due to an open case he has in Northern Berkshire District Court for larceny,” McGowen said.

Latimer was transported to the Williamstown Police Station on Sunday and later transferred to the Northern Berkshire District Court. He is being charged with one count of breaking and entering during the nighttime, one count of larceny over $250 and one count of larceny from a building.

While two perpetrators have been brought into custody, the investigation remains open. “At this time, the investigation is still active and ongoing as additional information is being learned,” McGowen said. “It’s likely more arrests [will be] made in the future as police [continue] to search and locate all stolen property in an attempt to return it to its rightful owners.”

Overall, both WPD and Security were satisfied with the way the event was handled at the College. “It was real teamwork,” said Dave Boyer, director of Security. He commended the quick thinking of the student caller as well as Bleau’s decision to alert Dodd neighborhood to be on guard, both of which Boyer cited as instrumental in apprehending Jones. While the student caller wished to remain anonymous, all parties involved agreed that this was the proper course of action.

“I thought [the thief’s] behavior was extremely suspicious, so I encouraged my [friend] to call Security, who arrived in a few moments and told us they had found the man on the third floor. We later learned that he had indeed stolen laptops from rooms throughout the building. I’m so glad we called Security, because so much could have turned out horribly different,” Erica Lansberg ’14 said.

“We depend on the students to be on top of their game too, and if you see anything wrong or different just call us,” Associate Director of Security Tony Sinico said. “Those are the two lessons to take from this: Lock your doors and call us.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind all Williams College students that Williamstown is not immune from crime, and these incidents, whether on the campus or in the town, are unfortunately not uncommon,” McGowen said.

“Recovering stolen property is difficult and in many cases impossible,” he continued. “Everyone should take precautions to protect valuable property, especially electronics that can posses essential and valuable information and where losing it could have catastrophic consequences.”

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