A Hopkinton Police Department detective’s investigation driven by reports of a “distinctive” pickup truck led to the arrest of a Marlborough man accused of breaking into homes in Hopkinton and at least four other communities in August.
Richard Findley, 34, will face charges in Hopkinton, Framingham, Southborough, Shrewsbury and Worcester in connection with several burglaries that authorities said he committed in August.
Det. Gregg DeBoer, a police officer since 1994, has been a member of the HPD force for nearly a quarter century and a detective here since 2015. He explained that he was working on a home burglary case on West Main Street where jewelry and a firearm were stolen.
“Officer [Cody] Normandin took the report of a person who was the victim of the theft of jewelry and a firearm,” he said. “The home’s video camera footage showed a very distinctive special model Chevrolet with vivid red paint and a black kit. It was lifted with large wheels. It also had a red ATV in the back.”
The vehicle was identified as a Chevy Silverado Black Widow edition pickup truck.
DeBoer noted that Normandin remembered that a neighboring police department had a similar report earlier that month. This led to DeBoer contacting Detective Keith Nichols of the Southborough Police Department.
“Detective Nichols and I compared the images we had of the vehicle, which had the same very distinctive red paint,” he said. “We were able to figure out the license plate and put out a BOLO — or be on the lookout — alert to neighboring towns.”
The alert led to a tip of the car at a Marlborough car wash.
“From the video surveillance footage there, we were able to see a picture of the operator and confirm the license plate. I recognized him from pictures from previous burglary reports, and the red ATV was in the back.”
DeBoer described Findley as “a prolific breaking and entering guy.”
“We were aware that he was somebody who had a track record,” he said. “He was previously convicted, served time, was released and then went back to doing it again.”
Up until that point, DeBoer said he had “a lot of circumstantial evidence.” The Marlborough video footage allowed him to get a warrant from Framingham District Court to place a GPS tracker on the pickup truck.
Said DeBoer: “It’s something that’s not used often, but it’s a great detection device.”
The tracker showed Findley’s vehicle had traveled to pawn shops in Framingham and Rhode Island. Several stolen items were recovered at the Framingham pawn shop and returned to their owners.
“During this time, there was a similar burglary in the Indian Lake neighborhood in Worcester,” said DeBoer. “Shortly thereafter, there was a burglary in Shrewsbury where he was captured on surveillance video.”
This new information gave DeBoer “100% rock solid evidence” that led to charges being filed in the five communities and an arrest warrant being issued on Findley.
“This was a good case because breaking and entering cases are notoriously hard to crack,” noted DeBoer, who spent three weeks working on it in cooperation with Normandin, Nichols and the other police departments. “It’s great, because this is somebody who has an established track record, so we were able to charge him in Framingham District Court.”
He estimated that Findley had been charged with “at least 20 convictions in the past” in the area. Calling Findley “a career criminal,” DeBoer noted that there were dozens of other charges that didn’t include arrests or convictions.
“This is the type of person who goes to pawn shops or on Craigslist or eBay to sell items,” he continued. “He doesn’t seem to know of any other way to make a living. I call it doing life on the installment plan.”
He added that Findley also “is tied to a recent Northborough break-in, making this five if not six communities where this occurred.” Because the case involves multiple communities, DeBoer said he is hopeful that the case will be elevated to a superior court case, most likely Worcester Superior Court.
“Because the break-ins occurred in both Middlesex and Worcester counties, we felt that the stronger cases happened in Worcester County, and the district attorney would be able to indict Findley,” explained DeBoer. This multijurisdictional practice is referred to as “a global prosecution.”
According to a report in the MetroWest Daily News, Shrewsbury police arrested Findley on Oct. 19 and charged him with breaking and entering during the day and larceny of property worth more than $1,200. Southborough also has filed criminal charges against Findley in Westborough District Court, including breaking and entering during the day and larceny from a building.
Hopkinton police plan to charge Findley with breaking and entering during the day, larceny of a firearm and larceny of property worth more than $1,200. Framingham police are charging him with receiving stolen property. It is unknown at this time what charges will be filed in Worcester or the other communities.
If convicted, DeBoer expects Findley to serve “at least a year in jail,” although he said the Worcester Superior Court would determine the appropriate length of a sentence.
“The most rewarding part of this is reuniting people with their stolen jewelry,” he added. “A lot of these things have sentimental value to people that can’t be replaced. I couldn’t track down everything, but I returned as much as I could find.”
Added DeBoer: “The thing that I noticed with all victims in situations like this is that there is a fear of the burglar striking again. That makes them psychological victims, too.”
When questioned about the make of the vehicle, DeBoer said it was the unique nature of the pickup truck that led to Findley’s arrest.
“In one case, a neighbor noticed a really cool truck parked in a neighbor’s driveway, which led to the police tip,” DeBoer said. “He might as well have been driving a hot pink Lamborghini because of the attention he drew to himself.”