Swansea Police Recover $400k Worth of Stolen Tools
SWANSEA — Swansea police have charged three suspects in connection with a theft ring that targeted construction site storage trailers across the SouthCoast and Rhode Island — and have recovered around $400,000 worth of tools.
Two Rhode Island men have been arrested and charged in the string of thefts, according to police, while the third suspect is actively sought on an arrest warrant.
Police are searching for 44-year-old Burrillville resident Robert Gustafson, who is charged with three counts of conspiracy.
Richard Alves, 48, of East Providence and 45-year-old Providence resident Arthur Hopkins are in custody and are charged with three counts of larceny over $1,200, larceny of a motor vehicle, malicious damage to a motor vehicle, felony breaking and entering, conspiracy, and possessing a burglarious instrument.
Police said on Jan. 12, they received a report of a storage trailer with numerous tools inside stolen from a construction site on Barneyville Road.
The empty trailer was later recovered in an elementary school parking lot in Cranston, RI.
During the investigation, Detective Eric Thibault identified a possible suspect vehicle from Cranston surveillance footage.
Thibault had been investigating other tool thefts from storage trailers on construction sites in Swansea dating back several months.
He had also learned about similar incidents taking place in Somerset, Seekonk and Middletown, RI in recent months.
Both the Somerset and Middletown thefts also involved security footage of a suspect vehicle similar to the one in Cranston, according to police.
A multi-agency investigation helped police identify Alves, Hopkins, and Gustafson as the suspects allegedly operating the theft ring.
Alves and Hopkins were caught after police conducted surveillance and executed search warrants in multiple communities.
Police said around $400,000 worth of stolen tools has been recovered.
The investigation included Swansea, Somerset, East Providence and Middletown Police Departments, along with the Rhode Island State Police High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force.
Police said Alves and Hopkins are currently awaiting extradition to Massachusetts for arraignment at the Fall River District Court.
Swansea Police Chief Marc Haslam thanked all of the law enforcement partners who assisted with the investigation.
"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," he said.
"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.