PITTSFIELD -- A North Adams man was arrested on Thursday evening after allegedly breaking into a Warwick Street home -- the latest in a recent spate of break-ins in the area -- a few hours after the home's owner interrupted the crime in progress.
James Mullen, 22, was arrested at about 6:30 p.m., after a nearby resident reported a suspicious-looking person was walking in the neighborhood, Capt. Patrick Barry said.
Moments after Mullen was apprehended, another break-in was reported on Brunswick Street, just two blocks away.
While the circumstances surrounding the Warwick Street incident were similar to the other recent break-ins, police said it's unclear whether Mullen might be connected to the other crimes.
"That's all part of the continuing investigation," Barry said.
In the past few weeks, police say there have been at least five other daytime break-ins reported in the southeast section of Pittsfield.
In most of the cases, the thieves broke in through the front or back doors, smashing windows, stealing high-value items such as a 14 karat gold necklace with a diamond pendant, a blue birthstone ring with two diamonds, a silver and black iPod, and a Nintendo Wii and accessories.
Another resident reported an iPad and a Canon camera stolen, but there was no sign of forced entry at their home.
"There's definitely a method to their actions," police Lt. Jeffrey Bradford said. "Clearly, they were looking for high-end items and broad daylight didn't deter them."
Bradford said the thieves most likely knock on people's doors to see if anyone is home prior to breaking in. And if someone is home, they'll make up an excuse for being on their front porch.
The Warwick Street resident returned to her home at about 4 p.m. Thursday and apparently surprised the intruders, who then fled. The woman told police she opened the front door and heard voices coming from the kitchen. She closed the door, dialed 911 on her cellphone and waited in the front yard for police to arrive.
It's unclear at this time if there was more than one person in the home, but police said someone broke into the home through a back window and fled through the back door.
Six officers and a K-9 unit responded to the scene and searched inside the house and the neighborhood.
Bradford said it didn't appear that anything was stolen this time, but a large flat-screen TV had been taken down from the wall. Other items of value, including a laptop, had been moved.
Around the same time, a resident of Noblehurst Avenue, which runs parallel to Warwick, reported seeing Mullen get into a suspicious vehicle -- a green Jeep Grand Cherokee -- that "didn't belong there" and drive off.
"We believe it is connected to him," Barry said.
Mullen was caught a short time later after he was spotted walking through a nearby backyard.
He was arrested on a warrant in Pittsfield District Court and a default warrant from Northern Berkshire District Court. He also faces charges of breaking and entering in the daytime with intent to commit a felony and furnishing a false name.
At 7 p.m., another break-in was reported less than a mile away on Brunswick Street, but there was no information available since the crime scene was being processed, Barry said.
Police are urging residents to lock their doors, first-floor windows and their cars. Sturdy, solid-core doors with good frames and locks and security systems were also suggested.
Anyone with information about the break-ins is asked to call the detective bureau at (413) 448-9705.
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