By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — SWAMPSCOTT — Police say they’ve identified two suspects who acted like they were newspaper boys while perpetrating a series of recent housebreaks.
Rashid Sparks, 21, of 45 Wyman St., Lynn, was arrested on several counts of receiving stolen property over $250, according to a press release from Detective Sgt. Tim Cassidy.
“Sparks has been arrested and, at last check, was being held in Middleton Jail, with more charges pending,” Cassidy wrote. “A second suspect has been tentatively identified as a 15-year-old Lynn juvenile.”
The arrest followed an investigation into housebreaks in Swampscott, Lynn, Saugus, Malden and Melrose, most of which occurred in mid- to late October. Detectives arrested Sparks after determining that he had pawned stolen items, Cassidy said.
“It is believed that Sparks and his accomplices were acting as newspaper boys as a ruse to get into houses, and when residents didn’t open their doors when they knocked on them, they would break in,” Cassidy wrote.
Police are still seeking a third person who they believe assisted Sparks and the teenager. They are also still looking for a gold-colored Infinity Q5 SUV that was believed to have been used in several of the break-ins.
The back window of the SUV was damaged during an incident on Puritan Road in Swampscott, during which one of two suspects — described at the time as young, thin Hispanic men — knocked on a door and asked a resident whether they “wanted a newspaper,” according to a previous press release from Cassidy.
When the resident answered the door, the two suspects went next door instead — in the process, backing into a wall and smashing their vehicle’s window — and then broke into that residence and stole jewelry and $20,000 in Canadian cash.
Over the course of October, police fielded additional reports of residential break-ins on Cherry, Essex and Pine streets, in addition to Franklin Avenue and Elmwood Road. Cassidy previously said that the department believed two groups of people were responsible for the break-ins, and it was unclear whether any of these were believed to be the work of Sparks and his accomplices.
State police in Danvers are still processing some of the evidence from the housebreaks.
“Residents are reminded that especially during the holiday season to call local police if they see anyone suspicious in and around their neighbors’ houses or neighborhoods,” Cassidy wrote.
Police encourage anybody with information to contact detectives in Swampscott at 781-595-1111 or in Lynn at 781-595-2000.