The incident on November 14 at the Southampton Big Y was not the first offense
Southampton Police arrested a Winchendon man at his residence on Monday afternoon 15 November, following reports of suspicious activity in the Big Y car park in Southampton.
At around 4:23 pm on Sunday, November 14, witnesses reported that a person “put something in the fuel tank of a parked vehicle,” according to a press release from the Southampton Police Department.
According to a Southampton Police Department narrative, a witness approached the individual and asked him what he was doing, to which he replied that he was “putting dry gasoline in the his friend’s vehicle ”. The witness also observed liquid on the ground under the vehicle, as well as around the refueling port. By the time police arrived at the scene, the individual was no longer present, but witness reports led investigators to identify Alexander Yee, 37, as the person of interest.
The owner of the affected vehicle reported that the vehicle warning light came on and the vehicle began to roll “hard” shortly after the incident, according to the narrative.
At approximately 4:45 p.m. on Monday, November 15, Yee was arrested by Southampton Police with assistance from Winchendon Police and charged with Section 18 of MGL Chapter 266; motor vehicle break and enter and MGL chapter 266 section 28; Malicious destruction of a motor vehicle.
Yee told investigators he parked in the Big Y parking lot “while waiting for an opportunity.” After seeing a female driver get out of her vehicle and enter the grocery store, he approached the vehicle and poured half a bottle of water into the gas tank.
Yee described himself as having a “car boot fetish”, noting that “the boot part turns me on a bit.” He described how female drivers attracted him to the “fetish” component and admitted that Sunday’s incident was not the first time he had committed the offense.
“There may be a correlation with some concerns about potential sexual offenses,” said Chief Ian Illingsworth of the Southampton Police Department. “We are currently working with other agencies to find a common thread between all the reports. But there seems to be a sexual component involved.
Yee is suspected of committing similar acts in the counties of Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester, as well as in southern New Hampshire.
Hadley’s operations lieutenant Mitchell Kuc is urging anyone with reason to believe his vehicle’s fuel tank has been tampered with to contact the police department in the jurisdiction in which the incident took place.
“There are quite a few police departments that are involved in this,” Kuc said. “If someone has already experienced this … and if he [know] the date, when it happened and where it happened, then they should call the police department in that jurisdiction so they can report it. For example, if they were at Target or Walmart… and if their car broke down after leaving Hadley, then they should call us.
The Amherst Police Department did not have a statement.
College Street Motors in Amherst reported as many as six vehicles in need of repair over the past month due to water in their fuel tanks, although they were not sure if the incidents were related.
Gil Rivas, owner of Gil’s Auto Repair & Performance, Inc. in Amherst, said that although he hadn’t had any customers with this problem, his wife noticed that his car’s gas tank was tampered with after returned to her car after shopping at Walmart in Mountain Farms Mall in Hadley Monday afternoon around 2:00 p.m.
“She noticed her tank was open, and I looked at her and noticed there was a scratch [on the outside of the fuel tank]”Rivas said.” She certainly remembers shutting it down. So we’ll have to wait until we can turn down the throttle enough to see if there will be a problem with the car.
Daniel Hayes of ESP Auto, Inc. in Easthampton said that while there have been no customers with water in their vehicles’ fuel tanks, the staff at ESP Auto, Inc. were fully aware of the reports.
“Some of my employees have daughters driving now so it’s scary. Having two daughters of my own, we always talk about what you do in emergencies. said Hayes. “What this person was doing is especially scary because you get into your car and you wouldn’t expect [to happen]. You might be aware of your surroundings getting into your car, and you think you’re safe, so you lock up, then you start driving and you break down – you don’t anticipate someone planned this … [and now] you are stuck on the side of the road.
While Hayes doesn’t think such incidents happen particularly often, he still encourages people to always be vigilant about them.
“A lot of cars have gas doors that are locked where you have to unlock them from inside the car, and there are lockable gas caps,” Hayes said. “It looks like it’s an anomaly, as it’s very unusual, but I certainly think it’s important to be vigilant. It’s a scary thing, especially for young women, [so] I think as a community it is important to just be aware and be constantly observant. “
“I’m really happy that people have been watching and seeing what happened and reporting what has happened, and I think as a community that’s what we really need to do everything time and just be vigilant about everything, besides being nice to each other, ”said Hayes.
McKenna Premus can be reached at [email protected] and follow on Twitter @mckenna_premus.