Joseph Solomon, Chief of Police
Quinn Public Safety Building
90 Hampshire St.
Methuen, MA 01844
For Immediate Release
Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Methuen Police Charge City Employee with Stealing Historic Artifacts from City’s Vault
The Methuen Police Department and Mayor Stephen N. Zanni will be available to members of the media at 7 p.m. at the police station.
METHUEN — Mayor Stephen N. Zanni and Police Chief Joseph Solomon report that the Methuen Police Department has charged a city official after she allegedly stole several historic artifacts from the city’s municipal vault.
JUDITH K. HAJJAR, AGE 59, OF METHUEN has been charged with seven counts of Larceny over $250.
“In this case, the Methuen Police Department alleges that an employee of the city clerk’s office stole historic silver artifacts for her own personal profit,” Chief Solomon said.
The investigation began late last month. On Monday, Aug. 28, Methuen Police Captain Kristopher McCarthy met with City Clerk Tina Touma-Conway after the clerk noticed that seven antique silver plates, purchased by the city many years ago from Searles family estate, were unaccounted for.
Touma-Conway noticed that the plates were missing after the Methuen Historical Society requested them, and they could not be located.
The investigation led police to HAJJAR, who had previously been tasked with cleaning the vault.
Unfortunately, the investigation also showed that HAJJAR allegedly sold the plates to a pawn shop, which later sold them to a refinery, which melted the plates down for scrap.
The city estimated the historical value of the plates at tens of thousands of dollars.
Within hours of first being contacted about the missing plates, HAJJAR attempted to file for retirement. The city will use the civil and criminal court system in an effort to recoup the lost monetary value of the silver plates, which may include going after her pension.
“A piece of our city’s history has been lost forever, and it is a shame that one person’s greed has cost us so dearly,” said Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni. “I am proud that our police department conducted a thorough investigation, and we will use whatever channels we have available to recoup the city’s financial loss. However, nothing can replace the historic value of these artifacts.”
Chief Solomon is out on bereavement leave.