Edgartown man faces charges for theft of three cars over two nights

Jacob Murphy drove one car from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown and switched it for another car later found heavily damaged, police said.

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Four hours after this red Geo Prizm was reported stolen, it was found totaled near South Beach — Photo courtesy of Joshua Flander

A joint investigation by Oak Bluffs and Edgartown police ended with the announcement Tuesday that Jacob M. Murphy, 26, of Edgartown is responsible for the theft of two cars on Oct. 16, and another car six days later on Oct. 22.

Oak Bluffs Detective Jeffrey LaBell told The Times that Oak Bluffs and Edgartown will seek charges of vandalism, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, unlicensed operation, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, and unlicensed operation in connection with the respective cases.

Mr. Murphy’s car-theft spree began on Friday, Oct. 16, when, police said, he took a 1998 green Ford Taurus parked on Healey Way in Oak Bluffs and later abandoned it in the Dark Woods town lot near the Triangle that night.

Mr. Murphy then took a 2002 red Chevrolet Geo Prizm from the Dark Woods lot, which was later found deep in the brush off Herring Creek Road, near the South Beach parking lot. The car was totaled, police said.

The owner of the Geo Prizm told police he had left his car unlocked and the key in the ignition.

When police arrived, they discovered that the green Taurus had been reported stolen in Oak Bluffs. One of the car’s tires was flat.

Just before midnight Friday, police found the Geo near South Beach: “The vehicle left the roadway and traveled approximately 150 yards into the brush. The vehicle appeared to have bottomed out, breaking the back windshield and damaging the front end,” according to the police report.

Six days later, on Thursday, Oct. 22, a man called Oak Bluffs police about 10 pm to report that his car was stolen from Ocean Avenue in Oak Bluffs.

Police noted that the location of the stolen vehicle was in close proximity to Healey Way where the earlier car theft had occurred. The owner reported he had left a set of keys in the center console of the vehicle.

That night, Edgartown Police located the stolen vehicle unoccupied in the Edgartown Stop and Shop parking lot, according to a police press release.

That same night, Edgartown Police arrested Mr. Murphy on an unrelated probation violation. At the time they were unaware of his connection to the vehicle thefts, police said.

The following morning, Friday, Oct. 23, Edgartown officers viewed surveillance video from Stop and Shop and determined that Mr. Murphy was the operator of the vehicle stolen from Oak Bluffs the previous evening.

Later that day, on Friday afternoon, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown police officers interviewed Mr. Murphy while he was in custody at the Dukes County Jail, and determined he was responsible for stealing the three vehicles.

Mr. Murphy is currently being held at the Dukes County Jail without bail on a probation violation.

In his most recent court appearance, in May 2015, Mr. Murphy was found guilty of assault and battery and sentenced to two years probation with probation conditions.

A charge of intimidating a witness/juror/police/court official was dismissed at the request of the commonwealth.

Charges of vandalizing property and breaking and entering a building during nighttime to commit a felony were continued without a finding for two years with probation conditions.