Saturday, May 25, 2013
WINSLOW -- A police officer investigating a series of homemade bomb explosions has uncovered a larger crime spree involving 13 males in 14 criminal incidents.
Officer Ron McGowen logged more than 100 hours unraveling the case, which included a series of burglaries, thefts, criminal mischief and motor vehicle burglaries -- known as "car shopping" -- during which $3,000 worth of items were stolen, he said. Summonses have been served or are pending on nine juveniles and four adults, and $1,800 worth of items have been recovered.
The incidents spanned several weeks from June 12 to July 8.
The case grew legs on July 5, at the end of a three-day series of explosions from four homemade bombs. There were no injuries or damages from those fires.
On that day, McGowen received an anonymous tip about the bombings and interviewed three potential suspects. McGowen wouldn't say exactly what happened next, but soon the case grew in scope and included many other incidents and people, mostly teenagers.
The case "just went nuts," McGowen said.
Police are withholding the names of many of the suspects because they're juveniles. Of the four adults, McGowen would name only one -- Donald Stone, of Winslow, who was summoned Thursday on four counts of reckless conduct for allegedly making and detonating the bombs. The names of the remaining three adults are being withheld until summonses are served to them, McGowen said.
The crimes began June 12 when three juveniles broke into a snack shack at the Winslow High School softball field and stole "armloads" of drinks and snacks.
They continued on 10 other nights during which different combinations of suspects broke into another school-owned snack shack, knocked air conditioners out of windows at several homes in the Smiley Acres neighborhood, threw a rock through a picture window on Hallowell Street, smashed a car window on Frawley Street, burglarized four vehicles on Lucille Street and Ginger Avenue, smashed a car window on North Garand Street, lit four homemade bombs on three consecutive nights, and burglarized six vehicles in the Smiley Acres neighborhood, McGowen said.
Stone was summoned on a charge of criminal mischief for the second snack shack incident but wasn't involved in anything else.
The vehicle burglaries are known as "car shopping," McGowen added.
"Car shopping is going around and looking in cars for things to take," he said.
For the most part, so-called car shoppers target unlocked vehicles, but twice the suspects broke into locked cars. McGowen said the stolen items include a laptop computer, six Global Positioning Satellite receivers, an iPod and much more -- a total of about 50 items valued at nearly $3,000.
Twenty-three items have been recovered so far, McGowen said.
"It was a very time-consuming and tedious investigation," he said, "but I'm very happy to have located as many items as we did, and I look forward to returning them to their owners."
McGowen said he believes the crimes were the result of two factors -- one bad apple and summertime blues.
First, a young man with a criminal past -- whom McGowen wouldn't identify -- probably convinced the other suspects to get involved. Second, they suspects had nothing else to do, he said.
"They're all good kids," said McGowen, who also is a student resource officer for Winslow schools. "They're involved in sports and they get good grades.
"It all started when school let out. I wholeheartedly believe that when kids have things to do -- activities, school, sports -- they're less likely to fall into this sort of thing."
Ben McCanna -- 861-9239