Real Life Somerville Police Stories: John ELWELL (RSP, Removal of Theft Device) Assembly Row


On Sunday, March 31, 2019, while on full uniformed patrol in marked unit 784, I was notified by Nike Manager XXXX, that a known shoplifter John Elwell had just attempted to steal a pair of shoes, Elwell took the Nikes and concealed them in a reusable bag he brought into the store. Mr. XXXX stated employees stood there and watched him until he removed the Nikes and placed them on the shelf. Mr. XXXX stated he was with his mother a white female in a long black jacket. I was given a photo of the suspect, Mr. Elwell was wearing a grey and green Celtics hat, and all grey sweat suit and dark grey Nikes. He was also carrying a brown reusable bag from Bed Bath and Beyond. I notified Marked unit 781 (Officer Devin Schneider) of the description and we began to search the area.

I saw the a male that matched the suspect walking with a female that matched the description given by Nike. The male was crossing Grand Union Blvd and walking into the Kmart parking lot. I called for the suspect to get his attention and he began to walk faster. I yelled for him to talk to me, and he immediately changed directions and cut through the cars. I made my way around and could not see him, He popped up between two cars and walked out to the aisle. I pulled up to him and asked him to stop. He tried once again to walk by me, but after a few feet turned around and stopped. I asked him what his name was and he said John Elwell. I asked what happened in Nike. He stated nothing I was gonna buy a pair of sneakers but I left. I asked him if he had any stolen property with him, he said no, I have a bag with my old sweat pants in it. Mr. Elwell was evasive and continued to try and leave. He stated I will never go back in there, can I just leave. Mr. Elwells Mother, XXXX, was confrontational and gave false information to Officers about her Identity. I trespassed Mr. Elwell from the property and sent him on his way.

As he was walking away, an unidentified witness told me Mr Elwell had dumped a bunch of clothes under a car. I was able to recover a large pile of clothes from Lucky Brand. At the same time, we were also notified by Nike that Elwell removed a theft detection sensor and hid it in another pair of shoes. I pulled back up to Mr Elwell, and placed him in hand cuffs. I explained the new evidence against him, he stated I have a Heroine addiction. He stated he steals to feed his addiction. Ms. XXXX stated she knew what he was doing, but he has a problem.

I followed up with Luck Brand, the employee stated they did not witness the larceny but was able to confirm that none of the 22 shirts were paid for. I gave a description of the suspects and she stated two people of the same description had tried to shoplift yesterday and they were able to detere them.

I advised Mr. Elwell of the resource to overcome addiction that the Somerville Police Department can supply.

He was transported By Officer Thomas Lambert, in the Transport Wagon 200 and booked in the usual manner by the commander Lt. Sean Sheehan.

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