Fresh paint, Facebook post lead Edgartown police to suspect

Facebook provided a clue that lead Detective Chris Dolby to the doorstep of Jonathan Smith. — Photo courtesy of Facebook

A timely painting project and a Facebook testimonial about comfortable work boots gave Edgartown police unusual but obvious clues to a break-in at a North Water Street house earlier this month. Police are seeking charges against a construction worker visiting Martha’s Vineyard, who confessed to the crime, according to a police report.

On May 3, police got a report of a broken window in an entrance doorway at 61 North Water Street.

Police found a door slightly ajar on the front porch, and an open deadbolt lock. As it happened, the porch was painted the day before.

“I observed numerous footwear impressions on the porch,” Det. Sgt. Chris Dolby wrote in his report. “The footwear impressions led up to both doors which face the water off the covered porch. There was clearly only one set of footwear impressions on the porch.”

Inside the house, police found little amiss, except for medicine cabinet doors ajar and an empty prescription bottle.

While working on an unrelated investigation, police began to suspect that a construction worker named Jonathan Smith of Wareham had something to do with the break-in. Police ran a criminal background check and looked at Mr. Smith’s public Facebook page. There, Mr. Smith had posted a picture of his new work boots, with a comment.

“These things are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn in my life!!!!!,” Mr. Smith wrote. “A sweet deal for sure.” Perhaps, but it turned out be costly for Mr. Smith.

Det. Sgt. Dolby did more research on the footwear and discovered that the sole tread was an exact match to the footprints in the fresh paint at the North Water Street house.

When contacted by phone at his home in Wareham, Mr. Smith told police he had nothing to do with the crime, but after further questioning he told Det. Dolby he did break into the North Water Street house, according to the police report.

“On Tuesday, May 14, 2013, Smith went to Wareham Police Department and completed a written statement detailing how he broke into the residence,” Det. Sgt. Dolby wrote.

Edgartown police are seeking a summons in Edgartown District Court, requiring Mr. Smith to appear at a future date to face charges of breaking and entering at night to commit a felony and malicious destruction of property.