BAR HARBOR, Maine — Local police have solved the mystery of what happened to 13 merchant’s flags that have disappeared this winter.
Police found the flags when they discovered a trio of teen-age boys had taken over a vacant home in the middle of town and turned it into their clubhouse, according to Sgt. Shawn Farrar of the Bar Harbor Police Department.
Farrar said Sunday that Officers Eric McLaughlin and Tim Bland made the discovery Saturday afternoon when they were contacted by an employee of hotelier Tom Walsh, who owns the former residence. The house is off the town-owned parking lot behind the Criterion Theater on Cottage Street.
A woman who knows the employee had just seen the boys entering the house and gave him a call. The employee in turn called police and went with them to the house to investigate. When he tried to use his key in the lock on the door, he discovered it did not work, Farrar said.
“[The boys] had installed a deadbolt lock in the front door,” Farrar said. “They kind of made it their little clubhouse.”
Police kicked in the door and inside found 13 missing snowflake flags that had been stolen from local businesses that belong to the Bar Harbor Merchants’ Association. Each flag was stuck inside an orange traffic cone, also believed to have been stolen, according to Farrar.
The flags, which depict a white snowflake on a light blue background, are used by merchants’ association businesses to indicate when they are open during the winter season.
The boys were upstairs in the house and came down peacefully after police forced their way in, Farrar said.
Farrar did not release the identities of the boys, who are 17 years old and live in Bar Harbor. They have been charged with criminal trespass, criminal mischief and receiving stolen property, all misdemeanors, he said. Further charges could be pending.
In addition, the entire inside of the house had been spray-painted, according to Farrar. A date had been spray-painted on the ceiling in an upstairs bedroom, he said, which suggested the trio had been coming and going from the house for at least the past 17 months.
One of the boys admitted to spray painting graffiti at the Bar Harbor Club, which also is owned by Walsh’s family, and at West End Drug, Ben & Bill’s candy and ice cream shop, and on a fence by the Balance Rock Inn, according to Farrar. Several signs that had been stolen from local hotels or properties owned by Walsh also were found in the house, he said.
“It was just stupid, pack-rat stuff,” Farrar said.