SALEM — A Salem man already well-known to area police departments was arrested on charges that he attempted to break into several cars at the South Harbor Garage near Pickering Wharf early Sunday morning.

Jose Allen Negron, 36, of 22 Pleasant St. was spotted by Salem Patrolman Thomas Pelletier, who was conducting surveillance in the garage as a result of a rash of car breaks there and at the Museum Place Garage downtown.

Pelletier recognized Negron, who does not own a car. The patrolman watched from a stairwell as Negron approached an SUV and tried the doors, Salem police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski said during Negron's court appearance yesterday.

The officer ducked out of sight as Negron approached the stairwell but could hear three car doors open and close, Prosniewski said.

Then Negron's cellphone rang, and Negron said he was on his way.

When he got into the stairwell, Pelletier was waiting for him.

Negron had no explanation for police as to why he was in the parking garage at 3:18 a.m., but in court yesterday, Mark Barry, his attorney, said Negron told him he was looking for a jacket he had left in the car of his girlfriend's friend and didn't recall what kind of car that person was driving.

Pelletier also noticed fresh needle marks on Negron's arms, according to police.

Negron, who has been to jail a dozen times and has a long history of similar charges, including breaking and entering and receiving stolen property, was ordered held on $1,500 bail on the charge of attempted breaking and entering.

His probation may also be revoked in a case from October, in which Negron admitted stealing items, including a distinctive red fitted baseball cap he was later seen wearing, from two Pickering Wharf businesses. Negron was on probation, with 18 months of jail time over his head, when he was arrested Sunday and could now face serving that term.

At the time of his plea in the earlier case, Negron was trying to turn his life around because of the impending birth of a son, his lawyer told the judge.

That son was born a month later but died shortly after birth, according to an obituary.

Negron is scheduled to appear again in court on May 21.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or jmanganis@salemnews.com.

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