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LAWRENCE - Three empty safes were found dumped in the Merrimack River, which may provide more clues in a rash of business breaks plaguing Haverhill, Methuen and Lawrence.
Police Sgt. William Beck, working the day shift, noticed the safes along the riverbank after he pulled over a truck behind mill buildings at 300 Canal St. He happened to take a look down at the river and saw the safes.
Around 1 p.m., they were hauled up the riverbank and loaded onto the back of a tow truck. Detectives are now checking out the safes, hoping to pinpoint their owners by using the serial numbers. Police said they definitely believe the safes were stolen from either homes or businesses.
"I'm sure we are going to be able to connect the safes to some burglaries in the New England area," police Chief John Romero said.
The recovery of the three safes comes a little more than a week after a 500-pound safe was stolen during an overnight break at a thrift store downtown.
Police said they believe at least three criminals, if not more, carried the safe out of the St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store at 42 Franklin St. The bottom of the safe was pried open and $1,500 cash was stolen from inside.
The massive safe was found a day later, empty, and dumped in a Haverhill industrial park.
Other safe thefts from restaurants, stores and a gas station in Haverhill and Methuen remain under investigation.
In the other breaks, a hole was cut in the roof of Kentucky Fried Chicken on Haverhill Street in Methuen and an undetermined amount of cash was stolen from a safe inside.
Other businesses targeted include Wally's Vegetables, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Luk Oil gas station and White Hen Pantry in Methuen. Detectives from the three cities are sharing information to track down the burglars.

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