SWANSEA — Chief Marc Haslam reports that the Swansea Police Department has identified and charged three suspects in connection with a theft ring targeting storage trailers on construction sites throughout the South Coast and Rhode Island and have recovered approximately $400,000 worth of tools.
RICHARD ALVES, AGE 48, OF EAST PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, and ARTHUR HOPKINS, AGE 45, OF PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, were arrested and charged with:
- Larceny Over $1200 (Three Counts)
- Larceny of a Motor Vehicle
- Malicious Damage to Motor Vehicle
- Conspiracy (Three Counts)
- Breaking and Entering into a Vehicle/Boat at Nighttime for a Felony (Two Counts)
- Possession of a Burglarious Instrument
Swansea Police have also issued a warrant and are actively seeking to arrest ROBERT GUSTAFSON, AGE 44, OF BURRILLVILLE, RHODE ISLAND, who is charged with three counts of Conspiracy.
ALVES and HOPKINS are currently in custody at an Adult Correctional Institution in Rhode Island and are awaiting extradition to Massachusetts to be arraigned in Fall River District Court.
On Jan. 12, Swansea Police received a report of a stolen storage trailer containing numerous tools from a construction site on Barneyville Road. The trailer was recovered a short time later in the parking lot of an elementary school in Cranston, RI with all the construction tools stolen from inside.
During the initial investigation, Swansea Police Detective Eric Thibault was able to identify a possible suspect vehicle from surveillance footage obtained in Cranston.
Detective Thibault had been actively investigating other incidents of tool thefts from storage trailers on construction sites in Swansea, dating back several months. During the course of his investigation, Detective Thibault learned about similar incidents occurring in Somerset, Seekonk and Middletown, RI in recent months.
In the Somerset and Middletown incidents, a suspect vehicle similar to the one identified in Cranston was seen on security footage.
Through a multi-agency investigation that included the Swansea, Somerset, East Providence and Middletown Police Departments, as well as the Rhode Island State Police High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force, police were able to identify ALVES, HOPKINS and GUSTAFSON as the suspects allegedly involved in the theft ring.
Following surveillance of the suspects and the execution of search warrants in multiple communities in recent weeks, ALVES, HOPKINS and GUSTAFSON were charged and approximately $400,000 in stolen tools have been recovered.
“We would like to thank our local law enforcement partners who assisted us with our ongoing investigation, which ultimately led to us obtaining arrest warrants for the three suspects involved in this multi-jurisdictional case,” Chief Haslam said. “Thanks to the collaborative effort, we were able to recover a large amount of stolen tools which will be given back to their rightful owners. I would also like to commend Detective Eric Thibault for his excellent police work in helping to identify the suspects in this case.”
The investigation remains active and ongoing. Anyone who believes that they may have been a victim in this case should contact their respective police department to follow up or report stolen tools.