SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 18, 2014

Man held in Salem office breaks

SALEM — A Lynn man confessed to police yesterday that “his old ways got the best of him” when he twice burglarized a downtown Salem office earlier this month, a police prosecutor said in court.

John Howard Jr., 47, had returned to the same place yesterday, the Masonic Temple office building on Washington Street, where he allegedly burglarized an office on Jan. 4 and again on Jan. 9, said Salem police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski.

But this time, surveillance images of Howard were plastered around the building, and the building manager immediately called police when he saw the suspect.

A small-business owner who rents space in the building contacted police regarding the thefts of a laptop computer and a docking station for an iPhone, along with a blue tote bag, Prosniewski said.

Surveillance video showed the suspect entering the building on Jan. 4, empty-handed, then returning to the lobby carrying a black computer bag a few minutes later.

The video also caught the return of the suspect on Jan. 9, this time carrying a blue tote bag in one hand and an unidentified object in the other.

Police found Howard at the rear of the building yesterday after getting a call from the building manager.

Howard, who has a five-page criminal record that includes a decade in prison for burglary, confessed to reaching through a mail slot on the office door to unlock it, police said.

According to police, Howard said he sold the dock and the laptop.

A lawyer representing Howard yesterday said his client had been clean and sober for 25 years and stressed his ties to the area, but opted not to contest the $10,000 bail Prosniewski requested yesterday.

Howard, who despite his confession pleaded not guilty to charges of breaking and entering and larceny, will be back in court Feb. 10 for a pre-trial hearing.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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