MACHIAS, Maine — A 19-year-old Pleasant Point man appeared in Washington County Superior Court on Thursday in connection with a string of break-ins earlier this week.
Nicholas Newell initially was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief. More charges may be pending.
Bail was set at $2,500 unsecured with a number of conditions, including no weapons or use of drugs or alcohol.
Around 4:45 a.m. Tuesday, the owners of the Waco Diner in Eastport discovered that a side window to the restaurant had been smashed and the cash register taken, Police Chief Matt Vinson said Thursday.
One hundred dollars in cash was stolen, according to an affidavit on file in Washington County Superior Court.
Later that night, an alarm at Baycity Mobil on Route 190 in Eastport went off. When police arrived around 11:45 p.m., they found the glass in the front door had been broken. Police investigated, but it appeared the alarm scared off the perpetrator and nothing was taken.
Then while patrolling downtown Eastport shortly after midnight, Officer Bill White noticed footprints in the snow near the Moose Island General Store. “They weren’t there earlier in the evening,” Vinson said.
While White was investigating, he heard a loud crash.
“He took off on foot along the seawall, near Water Street,” Vinson said. “That brought him up to the back of the Waco Diner. When he got to the back of the Waco Diner, he noticed that the rear window had been broken out.” It was the second time in 24 hours the diner had been broken into.
White called for backup, believing the person still was inside. Vinson and members of the Pleasant Point Police Department responded, but found no one.
“It appears he got out the side door before White arrived,” Vinson said. Liquor may have been taken, police said. “There was attempts to get into the safe, however access was denied to the safe,” Vinson added.
Police requested a dog unit from the Maine State Police to do a track of the area.
While police waited, Vinson checked other businesses in the area and discovered the front door to Bank Square Pizza had been kicked in. It appears nothing was taken from there.
Then around 1 a.m., Eastport police learned the dog they had requested had been diverted to Newcomb’s Gun and Saddle Shop in Perry, after the store’s alarm there had gone off. When owner Greg Newcomb arrived, he discovered a window to the store had been smashed and a display case was broken into, the affidavit said.
Three guns were taken, Maine State Police Trooper Greg Burns said Thursday.
Learning of the break-in in Perry, Vinson sent White to the gun shop to find out if that break-in might be connected to the incidents in Eastport.
“He went out there and the way the door was broken it looked like they were related,” Vinson said.
Around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Pleasant Point police reported there was a car off the road on Route 190 and a man had requested a ride home. “It was actually in Perry, but on the way into the reservation,” Burns said. The car was registered to Newell.
When police investigated, they found a tire iron, broken glass and a pair of gloves visible inside the car, the court documents said.
Police went to Newell’s house and woke him up. “As they talked to him in his bedroom, they noticed the butt of a handgun sticking out from under his mattress,” the affidavit said. “He was asked if there were any guns in the room and he replied, ‘no.’”
The mattress was moved, the affidavit said, and police seized an Astra S&W with the serial number scratched off. Next to it was an H&R .22-caliber handgun and a Ruger, the affidavit added.
Newell was arrested.
During questioning, the affidavit said, Newell admitted he broke into the Waco Diner and took the cash register. “He told the officers where the register was and it was recovered,” the affidavit said.
Newell also admitted to trying to break in to the other businesses in Eastport, and to breaking into Newcomb’s and taking two guns, the affidavit said. He denied taking the third gun.
Newell told police a friend had given him the Astra handgun with the scratched-off serial number. “But the buddy didn’t want anybody to know who it came from and requested that he take the serial numbers off. It probably is a stolen gun; we just haven’t tracked down where it was stolen from,” Burns said.
Police are asking anyone who has information on the third gun to call the Maine State Police at 255-8000.