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By Margo Sullivan
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Londonderry, NH police Lt. Mark Cagnetta retires at the end of this month after 24 years and eight months with the same department. Recently, he looked back on his career and talked about some of the highlights.
Cagnetta, 48, said he has compiled enough on-the-job experiences to write a book, with chapters about helping the SWAT team catch the San Jose State rapist and cracking a burglary case by following candy wrappers dropped in the snow.
Cagnetta and wife of 24 years, Cathy, plan to relocate to Arizona in search of sunshine "363 days a year." They have a daughter. Their 8-year-old son died last May.
What was the biggest case you ever had?
Londonderry's kind of a small town. The big cases present themselves very rarely. One night, I was chasing a speeding car down Litchfield Road, and a car pulled out in front of me. I was going around him - and thinking what kind of driver would pull out like that - and I looked over. I saw a husband and wife with panic on their faces. I pulled right over. The husband jumped out of the car with a baby that was blue. I was able to turn it over on my arm, and a red grape popped out. That was little Jeremy. He went on to fight in Iraq.
Any others spring to mind?
I was part of the SWAT team that captured the San Jose State rapist. He was out on parole in California. He disappeared and turned up here. We had a criminal threatening. ... He took a rifle up on Coteville Road. (He had been driving, and another motorist told him to slow down, and he took the rifle up to the man's house to tell him he couldn't talk to him like that.) He showed us a Maine driver's license. It was a false ID, but it looked real. We didn't know. Then, the FBI came back and said he was wanted in California where he had raped three girls. I was on the SWAT team that went to arrest him. I ended up shooting him in the shoulder. I wasn't aiming for his shoulder. He wouldn't put his hands up, and we thought he was armed. He wasn't, but we didn't know that.
You said your job is always fun. What's the best part?
It's got to be the interesting things you see. I could write a book. Some of the things are so crazy. And I always took great pleasure in solving a crime. One time I went to a burglary. It was an elderly woman's house. They stole her deceased husband's wedding ring, and she was very upset.
I saw the burglars may have been eating Reese's minicups. They had left little brown wrappers all over. I started following the wrappers and then the footprints in the snow, and this kid came up and asked me what I was doing. I saw one-quarter wrapper of a Zagnut bar fall out of his pocket. I thought, "Who eats Zagnut bars?"
So, I went back to the woman and asked her if she had any Zagnut bars in the candy jar. "As a matter of fact," she said, "I had one." The boy's father refused to believe his son had anything to do the crime, but later he called back and said the boy had the ring and had hidden it under his dresser.
Any favorite assignments?
Bicycle patrol. I found that extremely enjoyable, especially for the stealth factor. People don't see you or hear you coming.

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