CCTV Released of Reindeer Break-in As Hunt Intensifies for Organized Gang

The search has intensified for a wanted criminal in New Hampshire, with fears the suspect is part of a sophisticated organized crime gang.

Barnstead Police have now released CCTV of a break-in at Barnstead Elementary School (BES) last month, with an e-fit issued at the time widely circulated.

On Sunday authorities published the footage on their Facebook group, saying: "Barnstead officers have put together this compilation of surveillance footage from the Barnstead Elementary School hoping someone will recognize him and come forward."

There are fears he has ties to an organized crime group, who are roving about town armed with weapons as they case possible locations.

With the culprit still at large Santa himself has joined the search, along with forces in Eastern Europe.

Cops shared an article from the online site for the BeIarusian state national broadcaster, ONT, who picked up the story, warning: "The Russians are joining the search and assisting us in finding the BES Reindeer Burglar. It's only a matter of time, we are on his tail and following his tracks."

Meanwhile, the composite sketch of the criminal, referred to as the "reindeer burglar" or "reindeer bandit," was put in a line-up of other reindeers, with Santa asked to identify the outlaw.

Sharing snaps to their Facebook page on Wednesday, the police department said: "Today, Santa & Mrs. Claus magically appeared at the Barnstead Police Department to assist us in locating the reindeer burglar.

Santa looking at reindeer e-fits.
Santa looking at reindeer e-fits. The search continues for the reindeer burglar, with Mr Claus being consulted over the animal's identity. Barnstead Police Department

"As it stands right now they said that the nefarious rogue group of reindeer will only get coal in their Christmas stockings unless they come forward and apologize for all of the havoc."

In a bid to reassure the public, they said: "New Hampshire law enforcement officials have been working around the clock to try to identify and capture the reindeer burglar along with members of this syndicate who have been working throughout the state breaking into buildings. Their method of operation (mo) in the past has been 'Smash & Dash.'

"To date, the group has not stolen anything but their behavior is alarming. The reindeer burglar specifically, has caused significant damage during these B&E's. Authorities are trying to figure out why they have targeted New Hampshire this year, what their plan is, and who they are.

Footage from CCTV and crime scene.
A photo of the broken antler left at the crime scene has allowed officers to track down the culprit in subsequent CCTV footage. Barnstead Police Department

"While continuing the investigation, today, the Barnstead Police brought in the Big Guns, the reindeer experts Mr. Mrs. Santa Claus hoping they could help identify the reindeer burglar and his group of nefarious friends.

"Mr. and Mrs. Claus spent quite a while with officers going through reindeer booking photos and viewing a police photo line-up, but unfortunately, they were not able to positively identify who the reindeer burglar is at this time."

Reports have been coming in of the culprit, and possible associates, at large in the area, following the initial break-in at BES on November 28.

Smashed glass at the crime scene.
Smashed glass at the crime scene. The deer got in, and out, of the school by smashing two separate windows. Barnstead Police Department

The deer broke into the elementary school by smashing its way through a window, and smashing another to get out, leaving a trail of destruction and glass but crucially, part of its antler was left at the scene.

This has allowed police to identify the suspect, as members of the public called in further sightings, amid fears the gang were scoping out locations.

The police said: "On Thursday, December 2, 2021, at 10pm the Belknap County Sheriffs Department dispatched the Barnstead Police to respond to the Barnstead Elementary School for an active burglar alarm and found the building was unsecured, officers searched the premises but did not locate anyone inside.

"Again On Saturday, December 4, 2021, this time exactly at midnight, Barnstead Police responded to the school for yet another activated burglar alarm. Officers searched the building but could not find anyone inside or signs of forced entry.

"A subsequent check of the Barnstead Police Department's trail cameras installed in the area picked up the image of what we believe to be the reindeer burglar (notice the missing antler).

"Police believe that like many organized crime groups, the reindeer burglar and his gang are becoming more sophisticated now.

"Instead of 'smash and grabs' like their fruitless previous attempt at BES, they are now casing the school by pulling on doors or prying them open then running to the wood line for concealment to see the police response time and procedures."

While a separate sighting, on December 5, revealed what police fear are armed members of the same gang.

Further CCTV was shared to their Facebook page on December 5, entitled "Reindeer Burglar Organized Crime Group."

UPDATE: Reindeer Burglar Organized Crime GroupA local resident and vigilante hunter of the Reindeer Burglar sent BPD this video from one of his trail...

The grainy footage was captioned: "A local resident and vigilante hunter of the Reindeer Burglar sent BPD this video from one of his trail cams suspecting at first that it was our suspect but through analytics we have determined that it is not the Reindeer Burglar.

"However, we do suspect him to be a member of the same OC [organized crime] Group and a close associate. If you listen closely you can hear him dragging a metal pipe as he carries it with his antlers.

"We believe it's a crow bar or breaching tool that the group is now using to force their way into buildings."

The hunt continues for the criminals, with police warning people "don't approach" if they see any gang members, and to contact police immediately.