Acting on Informant's Tip, Police Arrest Three in Connection with String of Crimes

By CHRIS BURRELL

Oak Bluffs police say they cracked two cases in one day this week when they arrested three Oak Bluffs teenagers Wednesday in connection with the break-in at Tony's Market and then learned these were the same teens who opened up fire hydrants on East Chop almost two weeks ago.

Police have charged Edward Jay McCarthy, 18, and two juveniles, ages 15 and 16, with a slew of felonies, including breaking and entering in the nighttime, larceny of a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property.

Mr. McCarthy was arraigned yesterday in Edgartown District Court and released on $1,000 bail, pending a pretrial hearing Monday. The two juveniles, both male, will face charges in juvenile court in Falmouth, police said.

Oak Bluffs police Sgt. Timothy Williamson said police received a tip from an informant motivated by the $1,000 reward offered by Tony's Market. Police obtained a search warrant for Mr. McCarthy's residence on David avenue.

Inside a makeshift shack on that property, Sergeant Williamson said, "We found evidence they had broken into Tony's."

Police were unable to recover any of the $5,700 in cash and checks stolen, but they were led to David Richardson's 1996 Ford Ranger pick-up truck, which the teenagers allegedly stole and then dumped on East Chop. Mr. Richardson is the owner of Tony's.

The teenagers told police they spent all the money, and in the course of interrogations, they also confessed to acts of vandalism around town, including the fire hydrant incident which drained 1.2 million gallons of water and left the town unable to fight a fire over a half-day period.

Police have also linked the three to a break-in last February at deBettencourt's garage on New York avenue and a vandalism incident last month at the Island Transport bus depot on School street.

But it was the Tony's Market incident that spurred the police investigation and the tip that led police to the suspects. The store on Dukes County avenue was broken into last week on a Tuesday night. Stolen from the market were cash, checks, and more the $2,000 worth of merchandise: cigarettes, cigars, rolling papers and alcoholic beverages, according to police.

Sergeant Williamson said the teenagers were likely emboldened by the break-in at deBettencourt's Texaco because they didn't get caught after stealing more than $200 worth of cigarettes and other goods.

The fire hydrant incident from earlier last month represented not just a loss of water, valued at more than $1,700, but also damaged a road, police said in a press release. Police are still trying to determine the value of other vandalism they believe the teens committed, including spray-painting cars and slashing car tires.

Sergeant Williamson credited the informant who stepped forward to help police and thanked state police Sgt. Jeff Stone for helping with the investigation. Sergeant Williamson said the Oak Bluffs Water District commissioners are considering whether they should give the informant some of the $2,500 reward they were offering for information leading to the people who opened the hydrants.