BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — When a new, 46-inch “smart” TV, one that has integrated Internet capabilities, disappeared from a Loring Towers apartment on Friday, police didn’t have much to go on at first.
But three days later, Miguel Suarez came looking for the remote, police say.
Now Suarez, 31, is behind bars, charged with receiving stolen property and malicious destruction of property. And the Phillips flat-screen, with an estimated value of between $600 and $800, sits in the police station evidence room, heavily damaged.
That’s because, police say, when they showed up to Suarez’s own sixth-floor Loring Towers apartment on Monday, he apparently tossed the TV out the window.
Through his attorney, Paul Moraski, Suarez denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty at his arraignment yesterday in Salem District Court.
But police believe they have a solid case.
On Friday morning, a woman who lives on the same floor as Suarez had a doctor’s appointment. She had been allowing Suarez, a recovering heroin addict, to use her computer to search for jobs. The woman told police she asked Suarez to leave and he did.
A couple of hours later, she returned to find that her front door had been pried open, police said. The only thing missing was her new television, which Suarez had helped her set up.
Salem police detectives Capt. Tom Griffin and Daniel Tucker and patrolmen Eric Manninen and Sgt. Fred Ryan canvassed the neighbors and spoke to Suarez, who, the officers said, seemed nervous. Suarez told the officers that he was in his apartment when he heard a noise and went to check it out.
He claimed he saw a “suspicious” man, whom he described only as African-American, in the hallway. When police asked if they could look around his apartment, Suarez refused, telling them they would need a search warrant.
Then, on Monday, police got a call from the victim. On Sunday night, she said, Suarez showed up at her apartment and, when her daughter opened the door a crack, barged in, looking around the area where the television had been.
He was looking for the remote.
The victim told him that whoever stole the television had also taken the remote.
“No, they didn’t,” Suarez allegedly blurted out.
When Detective Eric Connolly paid Suarez a visit on Monday, Suarez again refused to consent to a search. Connolly told him that the police were going to get a warrant.
Suarez ran into his bedroom and closed the door behind him, police said. Then Connolly heard noises from the room that sounded like someone moving large items.
Moments later, he came out of the room and offered to consent to a search.
Meanwhile, Patrolman DeeJay Gagnon was walking back to his cruiser when he noticed a large flat-screen television in the bushes, directly below Suarez’s window.
Confronted, Suarez had no explanation, police said.
Judge Sabita Singh ordered that if Suarez makes the $500 bail she set, he must stay away from the victim. A pretrial hearing is set for July 18.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.