Car break-ins were reported along Route 38 from Lowell, Massachusetts, to Salem, New Hampshire, Tuesday night, and police think the same man is responsible.
He got away after a bat-swinging encounter with movie theater employees and a massive police search in Pelham, New Hampshire — a town already reeling from a shooting at a wedding this weekend.
The man was smashing car windows in the Chunky's Cinema Pub parking lot on Route 38 about 8:25 p.m. Tuesday night, police said.
Employees came out to try and stop him — that's when the assailant grabbed a weapon and turned violent, police said.
"It 100 percent escalated as soon as he grabbed the bat out of his car," Pelham police Lt. Anne Perriello said. "At that point, you’re looking to harm people and not just property."
The man, described as being in his late 40s or early 50s, allegedly attempted to get into a woman's car to flee.
By the time police arrived, the suspect had taken off into the woods, forcing neighborhoods into lockdown and prompting a massive search. Three vehicles had windows smashed and items stolen from inside, police said.
Police asked people in the area of Old Bridge Street to lock their doors and stay indoors Tuesday night as they searched for the subject, but the man wasn't found.
"We walked outside to see what was going on and they had spotlights and everything," said Britny Ragonese, who was working at the pizza joint nearby.
The vehicle-smashing spree likely started in Dracut, where police believe he broke into at least one car. Perriello said he hit several cars in Lowell before smashing the windows of the three cars in Pelham, then more in Salem, New Hampshire.
"Bridge Street seemed to be his target," she said.
No one was hurt during the crime spree, but police said the suspect made off with lots of personal items, including laptops and iPads.
The suspect got away, but police identified his car — or at least the one he was driving.
Now they're confident this case is almost closed, and expect to make an arrest soon.
"There's definitely some strong leads and the fact that we have the vehicle attached to his crimes as well, things are adding up," Perriello explained.
Pair this latest crime with the church shooting over the weekend and Pelham residents are on edge.
"Nothing really happens anywhere in Pelham, just this last week, crazy stuff is happening," Jared Lemieux said.
Anyone with information is asked to call 603-635-2411.