Dispatchers clear ‘dead-end’ case

Joseph F. Rego
Joseph F. Rego (Photo Credit: The Westfield News)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – An apparent ‘dead-end’ case has been cleared, and a suspect has been arraigned, thanks to the work of a pair of city dispatchers.

Det. Sgt. Stephen K. Dickinson reports that he responded to a shoplifting incident Aug. 14 in which a male party had attempted to push a shopping cart, laden with merchandise valued at $641, out of a local supermarket.

A person who appears to be shoplifting suspect Joseph F. Rego is seen selecting merchandise in a city supermarket. (Photo courtesy Westfield Police Department)
A person who appears to be shoplifting suspect Joseph F. Rego is seen selecting merchandise in a city supermarket. (Photo courtesy Westfield Police Department)

When the man was accosted by the store manager, Dickinson reports, he told the manager that he had to return to his vehicle to get his wallet and left the cart when he went back to his pickup truck. The man did not return to pay for his cart-load of groceries and the manager didn’t note the registration number on the white pickup truck when it drove away, Dickinson said.

“We had nothing to go on”, he said, until he enlisted the help of two of the city’s emergency dispatchers, Kelly Garfield and Kim Racicot. “It was really them who broke the case,” Dickinson said, “They did the work.”

Dickinson said that, based on the security video image of the truck, he guessed it to be a Toyota Tundra and he asked the two dispatchers to research all the white Toyota Tundra pickup trucks which have come to police attention in the city.

“I gave them the make and model that we thought it would be and they went to work,” he said.

He said that the researchers found a truck which appeared to be likely but it was owned by a female party. Looking into the substance of the incident the truck had been associated with, the dispatchers found that at the time officers encountered the truck it had been operated by the owner’s boyfriend, who was identified.

That name, coupled with pictures of the suspect in the store, led Dickinson to Springfield where, with assistance from Springfield police, he knocked on the suspect’s door. When the man came to the door, Dickinson said, he recognized him to be the man seen on the store’s security video.

Joseph F. Rego, 59, of 12 Pomona St., Springfield, was arrested for larceny of property valued more than $250.

Dickinson pointed out that the large amount of merchandise in the shopping cart, valued at $641, was more than the man and his girlfriend could use. He said that the merchandise included “a wide variety of stuff” including steaks, spare ribs and filet mignon.
“He even had vitamins”, Dickinson said, and explained that, according to Springfield police who assisted him, thieves will typically sell stolen merchandise to neighborhood bodegas.

“There’s no way he could have eaten all that,” Dickinson said.

Rego appeared in Westfield District Court for arraignment on Sept. 11 before Judge Philip A. Contant who noted “Def(endant) has 13 page record of convictions dating back to 1972.”

Contant found him to be indigent and appointed attorney Melissa Bodanza to represent him.

Rego was held in lieu of $500 cash bail pending an Oct. 16 hearing.

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Media Credit: The Westfield News

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