A man police call a “one many crime spree” has been arrested and charged with two break-ins at a North Beverly jewelry store last winter.
Additionally, he is being eyed in connection with as many as 15 other jewelry store break-ins on the North Shore and on the Seacoast of New Hampshire.
James J. Radler, 51, was arrested early Saturday morning at Knights Inn on Route 1 in Danvers, which he lists as his home. Beverly police detectives, led by Detective Darlene Prinz, along with detectives from Danvers and Peabody, made the arrest before 6 a.m.
He has been charged with two counts of breaking and entering into a building a night to commit a felony and two charges of malicious destruction of property over $250. The break-in charges each carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and the malicious destruction charge of up to 10 years in prison.
The charges are in connection to two “smash and grab” break-ins at Desjardins Jewelers in Commodore Plaza last winter.
The two break-ins at Desjardins happened within two weeks of each other about six months ago. The first was on Dec. 23 and the second on New Year’s Day morning at 5:18 a.m.
Beverly police were called to the store on New Year’s Day by an alarm and Officer Eric Lynch arrived to find that a dumbbell was used to smash the front door. Inside, a tool – possibly a hammer – was used to smash two displays and take diamonds and watches. Radler then allegedly fled out the back.
A review of surveillance tapes of the stores – and from other businesses in the area – did not yield a lot of clues. But a shot showing Radler allegedly crawling through the smashed door caught the attention of Officer Tom Nolan. It showed Radler catching a portion of his sweatshirt on the broken glass in the door. It was that one move that led investigators to send a sample to the State Police crime lab and find DNA that matched Radler – who is practically a career criminal with a record that spans the continental United States from Washington state to Vermont. Beverly detectives later used photos of Radler confirm his identity.
But the Beverly break-ins aren’t all – Beverly police said Monday that Radler is likely connected to as many as 15 similar “smash and grab”-style break-ins on the North Shore and throughout New England and New York.
“He has been connected to criminal activity as far west as Minnesota,” Beverly police said in its statement. “These burglaries have occurred over a period of approximately nine months; The approximate value of jewelry and merchandise stolen is $460,000.”
In February, Danvers police spokesman Sgt. Robert Bettencourt said at the time they were investigating a Nov. 29 break-in at Carter's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry on Route 114 that resembled similar break-in in Portsmouth. N.H.
Bettencourt’s comments came after a rash of similar break-ins in February, including one where a 30-pound dumbbell was used to break into the Long's Jewelry store in Peabody on Feb. 1. On Feb. 7 when a burglar smashed the front door with a 30-pound barbell. Later that month, on Feb. 22, the store was hit again when a burglar used a sledgehammer to break through the front door. And in Andover police said a similar burglary occurred at the Nazarian Jewelers on Feb. 26.
A day earlier, on Monday, Feb. 25, police in Swampscott said that a sledge hammer was left behind when a burglar broke the glass of the front door of a jewelry store and then eight display cases before he made off with 50 jewelry items valued at $8,500.
Radler was arraigned in Salem District Court on Monday and pled not guilty. Judge Michael Lauranzano ordered ordered Radler held on $750,000 cash bail and he is scheduled to return to court on July 8 for a pre-trial hearing.
Desjardins’ owners, Suzanne Colanto and Kim Mannetta, could not be reached for comment on Monday following Radler’s arraignment.
In addition to the Beverly charges, Beverly Police Officer Michael Boccuzzi, a department spokesman, said that Danvers and Peabody police are both expected to take out charges against Radler in their communities. He connection to any other similar break-ins remains under investigations by police in other cities and towns, Boccuzzi said.
Beverly Police Chief Mark Ray commended Prinz for her “tenacious investigative effort” and cooperation with other North Shore police departments that led to the arrest of “this one man crime spree; Removing this criminal from our streets has made Beverly and surrounding communities safer.”
At the time of his arrest, Beverly police said he was also wanted in wanted in Idaho, Vermont and Washington.
Attorney Edward McNaught of Danvers represents Radler.