When James Richardson woke up his roommate early on Monday morning, his roommate thought Richardson wanted to run downtown to grab some cigarettes.
But when the pair pulled in to the rear parking lot of the CVS store in Danvers Square at about 2:30 a.m. and looked to the rear of the lot, Richardson told him roommate, who was driving, “forget it, it’s not there.”
At that point, it was clear to the roommate they were not there for cigarettes and instead to pick up scrap metal.
Earlier in the night, police received a call from St. Mary of the Annunciation church on Conant Street. At about 2:30 a.m. a man was spotted trying to steal a copper downspout off the church. The theft was interrupted and the man, dressed in all black, began to run. Police found a 20-foot long section of one of the church’s copper downspouts at the rear of CVS’s parking lot and it was returned to the church.
After hearing that someone tried to steal the downspout and finding it, police waited for the thief to return. And they also had an idea of what type of vehicle they were looking for.
One alert Danvers police officer, Officer Graig Lebrun, had noticed earlier in the night that a blue GMC pickup truck in the area had been acting suspiciously.
Inside the CVS, a man from that truck has walked into the CVS, walked down the candy aisle and left within a minute without buying anything.
So when it returned at about 5 a.m. and pulled in to the parking lot from Central Street, police were watching. After the truck went to the area of the parking lot where the copper downspout was found, police followed it. Officer John Melto noticed that a roof-mounted brake light on the truck was out. Police stopped the truck on Maple Street near Beaver Park and Richardson was arrested.
That’s according to a police report filed in connection to charges of larceny over $250 and malicious destruction against Richardson. Richardson pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Monday in Salem District Court and released on his own recognizance with an order to stay away from St. Mary of the Annunciation church. He is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 12.
He is being represented by attorney William O’Hare.
His roommate, 49, does not face any charges.
Both Richardson and his roommate, were allegedly not wearing their seatbelt when the truck was stopped. Police said the two will be mailed a citation for failure to wear a seatbelt and Richardson’s girlfriend, who owns the truck, will be mailed a citation for a defective taillight.
After the arrest, when asked whether Richardson stole copper from other locations in Danvers, his roommate told police; “Yeah, I’m sure he did.”
His roommate told police that Richardson takes the metal to sell at scrap yards in Chelsea early in the morning.
The truck belongs to Richardson’s girlfriend, 47. She was not with him at the time of the arrest and was not charged.
Both tin snips and a pry bar were allegedly found in plain view in the truck, police said. Later, before the car was towed and it was inventoried, police found a carpenter’s hammer under the passenger seat.
Additionally, police said that footprints in the snow around the church matched the sneakers that Richardson was wearing at the time of the traffic stop. A few inches of snow fell in Danvers about 24 hours earlier.
Since the arrest, police have obtained evidence that ties Richardson to other copper thefts, said Danvers police Capt. Patrick Ambrose said.
“We will be charging him,” he said in an interview.
Ambrose said police could not provide further details on the evidence or the other alleged thefts, but said it connects Richardson to more than just the St. Mary’s theft.
Ambrose said that nobody else is expected to be charged in connection to the theft.
“It’s just him at this time,” he said.