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Rash of Break-ins Strikes Lanesborough

Andy McKeever

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Police are advising residents to lock their car doors after about 10 vehicles were broken into in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

According to Police, the vehicles were mostly unlocked and electronics were stolen sometime after midnight Thursday morning. Police have called residents informing them of the rash that spans across town from Sunrise Street to Ore Bed Road.

Police do not have any suspects and the case is still under investigation. The items stolen ranged from stereo receivers to binoculars to a cell phone.

Residents are encouraged to take "preventative maintenance" by locking doors and report any suspicious activity to the police.

Tags: break-ins      

Stolen Property Being Returned to Owners

Staff Reports

LENOX, Mass. — The items held as evidence in the case against burglary kingpin Stefan Veremko are being released to their owners.

The Lenox Police Department has been holding hundreds of items seized in November 2009 from Veremko's home, vehicle and areas where he had discarded the property. Veremko's monthslong spree across three states ended when an off-duty officer spotted him fleeing a building - with a pillowcase. 

Multiple police agencies were investigating the break-ins, which stretched from Southern Vermont to South County. As a result, Veremko and accomplice Tara Malloy were arrested. The recent conclusion of the case convicting Veremko and giving him five- to seven-year state prison sentence allows police the opportunity to return the seized evidence to the many victims involved with this case, said Chief Stephen E. O'Brien.

Many people came to the Lenox Town Hall on Nov. 19, 2009, to view the vast array of items. Some were able to identify items that indeed belonged to them. While conducting this process, during the exit interview, these victims were asked to provide a phone number at which they could be reached at the conclusion of the case.

Within the next several days, the victims who identified property will be receiving a call from the Lenox Police to arrange for the release of their property. All of the property that was identified will be returned to its rightful owner. For victims from the states of Vermont and New York, their property will be released to the police agency having jurisdiction over the crime. The out-of-state agency will make a determination if that property may be released or if it will remain held pending future criminal action against Veremko and Malloy in their states.

"We are asking for everyone's patience as we attempt to relinquish property in an orderly fashion to be certain that each and every victim recoups their loss," said O'Brien. "We also thank everyone involved for their patience as this case made its way through the criminal court system."

Tags: Veremko, burglary, break-ins      

Brackett Sentenced in Bunny Killings

Staff Reports

Wayne Brackett walks the track on Noel Field during Relay for Life in 2010 in this iBerkshires file photo.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Bunny killer Wayne P. Brackett was sentenced to four years in jail Friday morning after pleading guilty to numerous charges in Northern Berkshire District Court.
The 23-year-old North Adams man was caught on video June 9 committing mayhem on pet rabbits housed at Berkshire County Construction on Ashland Street after failing to gain entrance into several vehicles on the property. He admitted to killing five rabbits and breaking and entering.

He pleaded guilty to five counts each of animal cruelty and killing an animal, and single counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony and wanton destruction of property worth more than $250.

Judge Michael Ripps ordered Brackett to serve concurrent two-year sentences in the Berkshire County House of Correction on the cruelty to animal charges and two-year concurrent sentences to be served on and after the first sentence on the breaking and entering and destruction charges.

He also was placed on two years' probation on the charges of killing an animal on the condition he have no contact with the victims, undergo drug and alcohol screening and perform 100 hours of community service work during the probationary period.  

The investigation was conducted by members of the North Adams Police Department and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Tags: break-ins, animal cruelty      

North Adams Man Arraigned On Charges Of Animal Cruelty; Pleads Not Guilty

Staff Reports

Wayne Brackett walks the track and Noel Field during Relay for Life in 2010 in this iBerkshires file photo.

Update Monday, June 14, 2010: Brackett was arraigned this morning in Northern Berkshire District Court on charges of five counts of animal cruelty and breaking and entering and malicious destruction of property. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

WTEN reports that Brackett  was ordered held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 bail. His family was in court with him. His mother  told Channel 10 News that the family would stand beside him but "there is no excuse, there is justification, there is no anything, but he needs help." She said the family would stand beside him.

Brackett apparently told police he had been drinking and smoking pot and that he doesn't remember anything.

Brackett has been in trouble before. In 2005, he and two friends were arrested in connection with breaking and entering and car thefts. The three teens had reportedly broken into the Windsor Mill and stolen guitars and twice broke into then Gateway Chevrolet, stealing two cars they took joy riding.

His sister is reportedly battling cancer and Brackett participated in the Relay for Life fundraiser last month at Noel Field.

Taken from security cameras by WTEN.

UPDATE: Friday, June 11, at 6 p.m.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Wayne C. Brackett Jr. of North Adams was arrested Friday afternoon in connection with the bunny killings that occurred Tuesday night.

Brackett, 23, turned himself in to police at around 3:30 p.m., according to Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco.

Brackett is being held on $10,000 bail and will be arraigned at Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday morning. He faces numerous charges, including five counts of animal cruelty, five counts of malicious killing of an animal and one count of breaking and entering at night.

Morocco confirmed that an investigation by police and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) had successfully identified the suspect. After interviewing Brackett,  MSPCA Sgt. Roy Sutton and local police searched Brackett's residence and found evidence that supported the charges against him.

"The MSPCA Law Enforcement and North Adams Police departments have been actively pursuing the suspect's identity and collecting crucial evidence since Tuesday evening," said Sutton in a statement on MSPCA's website.

In an interview with iBerkshires.com on Friday afternoon, Morocco said Brackett was "sullen" at the time of arrest. The arrest comes after police received an outpouring of community involvement over the last several days.

"We literally received 100 tips," Morocco said. "I don't think he had a choice [but to turn himself in]. We had pretty much narrowed it down to him."

A reward leading to the arrest and conviction of the bunny killer ballooned to $9,000 in a couple of days, including large donations from the MSPCA, North Adams Police,  Pittsfield Police and $5,000 from a WTEN News sponsor. The killings also resulted in an outpouring of support for the Duquette family, whose 6-year-old daughter had been raising the bunnies with her grandfather.

"I've been around a long time, and I've seen people do a lot of things to a lot of other people," said Morocco.  "When it happens to animals, it's a whole different issue, especially since they depend on us for so much.

"People do a lot of cruel things. I've seen a lot of stuff, but never with this much anger."

To view WTEN's report of the arrest, click here. The Albany, N.Y., television station was among the first on the scene Wednesday morning.

UPDATE: Thursday, June 10, at 5:10 p.m.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police are still on the lookout for a white male between the ages of 16 to 20 years old, who is responsible for killing five rabbits Tuesday night at Berkshire County Construction on Ashland Street.

As of 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco said the case was "put to bed for the day, unless something happens tonight." Asked if there were any leads in the case, Morocco said he could not divulge that information, adding that "there is nothing new to report."

Morocco said, in an interview with the North Adams Transcript, the suspect is approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs between 140 and 160 pounds. The suspect is facing felony charges of malicious destruction of the animal of another and cruelty to animals. If convicted, he faces up to 2 1/2 years in state prison and up to a $2,500 fine.

Police suspect, but cannot confirm, that the male is also responsible for two other acts of vandalism that occurred shortly before the animal attacks took place. According to reports, a camper at Windsor Lake was broken into and two trucks at Construction Drilling Co. on Ashland Street were smashed.

Morocco said that the reward for information leading to the suspect's arrest is between $6,000 and $9,000.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call North Adams Police at 413-664-4944.

UPDATE: Wednesday, June 9

Police are investigating the bizarre killing of five pet rabbits Tuesday night at Berkshire County Construction on Ashland Street. The culprit apparently broke into two other locations before brutalizing the rabbits.

The case was still under investigation and no one had yet been arrested, said North Adams Police Sgt. James Foley.

Security footage shows what appears to be a young man wearing a trucker cap, black hooded sweat shirt, camouflage pants and a backpack terrorizing the rabbits, kicking them and tossing them. Foley said the suspect was first picked up by the security cameras about 8:30, at least a half-hour before he broke a window and set off the alarm. By the time police arrived, he'd fled the scene.

The individual also is believed to have broken into a drilling company across the street from Berkshire County Construction and a camper at Windsor Lake. "The park people chased him out of there," said Foley.

The man knocked over the hutches, freeing 14 of the 17 rabbits being raised by the owner's father and his young daughter. Foley said five were killed but all 14 were affected. "These are domestic rabbits. They were let loose and put in danger from other animals," he said.

Animal cruelty is a felony in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has launched its own investigation and removed the bunnies' bodies this morning to be autopsied.

Both the police and MSPCA are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator, said Foley.

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call North Adams Police at 413-664-4944.

Here's WTEN Channel 10's report on the story.

Tags: break-ins, animal cruelty, Brackett      

Breaking & Entering Reported in Williamstown

Staff Reports

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - Williamstown Police are urging residents to remain vigilant after another breaking and entering was reported over the weekend.

Police responded to a residence at Stetson Court on Saturday evening, Feb. 13, at about 6:27 after the caretaker called to report somone inside the building. The individual fled the scene without confronting the caretaker, said police, and a search was conducted with the help of the K-9 unit's Blue and Officer Michael Ziemba.

The suspect was not found but police were contacted again at about 10:32 about a past burglary on Chapin Court.

Both incidents were forced entries and are under investigation. Police encourage residents to report any suspicious activitings

Tags: break-ins, buglaries      
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