Four Arrested in Connection to 43 Breaks Across 25 Communities, Including Westwood and Nearby


Source: Middlesex District Attorney's Office. The above map shows the Massachusetts communities which the four individuals arrested are believed to have committed unarmed burglary and breaking and enterings.

Four individuals from Rhode Island were arrested and charged in connection with 43 burglaries and break-ins across 25 Massachusetts towns, including Westwood, Millis, Medway, and Sharon, for crimes that primarily targeted persons of Indian or South Asian heritage, announced Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Massachusetts State Police Colonel John Mawn on April 26, 2024. 

The individuals were arrested in their homes by the Rhode Island State Police Task Force and United States Marshals Service. On April 18 2024, a Middlesex Grand Jury indicted Paul Miller, 46, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island and his two sons, Jovan Lemon, 29, of Providence, RI and Paul Lemon, 30, of Warwick RI. Police also arrested Steven Berdugo, 28, of Providence RI. 

DA Ryan’s office believes that the defendants are part of an organized burglary ring with ties to a violent Providence-based gang. Each individual defendant faces 95 counts of unarmed burglary and breaking and entering a dwelling house in the daytime with intent to commit a felony.

The charges are related to incidents that took place in Westwood, along with Billerica, Boxborough, Carlisle, Easton, Hopkinton, Lincoln, Weston, Sudbury, Andover, Bellingham, Boxford, Franklin, Hudson, Littleton, Medway, Middleton, Millis, North Attleboro, Norwell, Pembroke, Seekonk, Sharon, Southborough, and Wenham between July 21, 2018 and March 30, 2024.

The stolen property includes many diamonds and gems, a vast amount of gold, jewelry and cash. The perpetrators even removed safes as heavy as 400 pounds from some residences in order to steal their contents. The aggregated value of the stolen property exceeds $4 million.

Source: Middlesex District Attorney's Office. Pictured is evidence gathered by investigators.

A search conducted on the morning of Friday, April 26, 2024 resulted in the recovery many stolen items, DA Ryan said. She also noted that the search also found some GPS trackers, along with a number of firearms.

DA Ryan notes that Indian or South Asian residences appear to have been targeted because of the defendants’ belief that their households are more likely to contain precious metals, jewelry, and other valuable heirlooms, due to their cultural practices and heritage.

While any resident may feel disturbed or distraught upon being victim of a theft, DA Ryan notes, “If you add to that having knowledge, or in this case suspicion, that your home was targeted not just to gain property - it was targeted because of who you are, because of your ethnic heritage -  I think that gives you some idea of the sense of trauma inflicted in a number of instances that took place across several counties for the last several years," she said.

Source: Middlesex District Attorney's Office. Two suspects are pictured, with one carrying a hand shovel.

The defendants were “sophisticated,” said DA Ryan, noting that they avoided surveillance cameras, likely used Wi-Fi jammers, and minimized cell phone use. She said they gathered information about their targets and learned when they would not be at home. All homes that were burglarized were unoccupied. They were unattended for either a short event like dinner, or longer length of times such as for a vacation.

“The theft crew we arrested today stole countless items of great monetary, emotional, and cultural value from families in multiple states, and did so by violating the sanctity of their homes,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mark Cyr, commander of the Massachusetts State Police Division of Homeland Security in a released statement. “Such brazen criminal actions will not be tolerated in our communities. This investigation highlights the dedication of our law enforcement partners to work collaboratively to take down complex criminal networks," he stated.

Source: Middlesex District Attorney's Office. Evidence gathered included foreign currency.

The success of the nine-month investigation was the result of “persistent, dogged, work,” said DA Ryan, who noted that in police work, efforts do not always yield immediate results. The investigation was led by DA Ryan's office, Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit assigned to the DA's office, and the Massachusetts State Police Division of Homeland Security, including the MaCrimeNet program. The MACrimeNet program provides capability for different police departments to obtain and share intelligence.

DA Ryan noted that the Massachusetts burglaries began near the Rhode Island border, and the defendants moved on to new communities, progressing toward Middlesex County. DA Ryan began investigating in the summer of 2023. The DA's office notes that police from 26 Massachusetts communities, including Westwood, Walpole, Wellesley, Millis, Medway, and Sharon, are partnering in the open investigation with the DA’s office and Massachusetts State Police. Investigators are trying to determine if other actors are involved in the crimes.

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