Two men nabbed after 5-car theft in Belfast area

Posted May 14, 2009, at 8:55 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — A Searsport man has been charged in connection with the theft of five cars from Belfast and Searsport on Sunday and Monday.

Michael Pyle, 26, was summoned on five counts of theft by unauthorized taking after reportedly confessing to the crimes on Wednesday.

A second man, Richard LaMarche, 33, of Woburn, Mass., also is expected to be charged in the matter but for the moment is being held without bail on outstanding felony warrants from New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He is being held at the Waldo County Jail and both states have indicated that they intend to extradite LaMarche to stand trial.

Detective Michael McFadden said LaMarche was apprehended in Frankfort around midnight Tuesday after briefly fleeing a residence and attempting to hide in nearby woods. State Trooper Shawn Porter and his tracking dog, Tex, and Trooper Corey Smith located LaMarche a short distance from the home.

McFadden said the car thefts began on Main Street in Belfast on Sunday night and ended in Searsport on Monday morning. He said the two men started stealing cars after consuming large quantities of alcohol at a party.

The pair stole their first vehicle, a Subaru station wagon, after leaving the party, according to McFadden. They allegedly drove the car to Frankfort where they proceeded to race it around a backyard dirt track, which caused extensive damage to the undercarriage. The car then was driven back to Main Street and swapped for a Volkswagen parked a short distance away, police said.

At that point, LaMarche and Pyle decided they needed more to drink and stopped at the Big Apple on Searsport Avenue to buy beer. While one was inside the store, the other saw a man leaving his Dodge pickup truck running while he ran into the store. LaMarche and Pyle subsequently left the area, one driving the pickup, the other the Volkswagen, McFadden said.

The car and the truck were left in Searsport where the two men stole a Chevrolet van and began joyriding in that vehicle, the detective said. At some point the van was dropped off and the men allegedly took a Chevrolet Tahoe which eventually was abandoned at Marriner Woods apartments in Searsport. Pyle resides in one of the apartments.

Police got a break in the case early in the investigation. McFadden said he was taking fingerprints from the stolen Subaru when an acquaintance walked by and told him about a loud party the night before.

McFadden said he walked to the nearby apartment and learned from the occupant that he and some friends had thrown the bash and that during the course of the party they “kicked out guys named Ricky and Mike” for stealing a bottle of vodka. That rang a bell, McFadden said, because a bottle of vodka was found under the passenger seat of the Volkswagen recovered in Searsport.

The apartment dweller gave McFadden a description of the two men and told him he thought that “Mike” lived in Searsport near the high school.

Working with Searsport Police Chief Richard LaHaye, McFadden learned of Pyle’s identity and found that he fit the description of “Mike” from the party. He also learned that Pyle had a friend visiting who matched the description of “Ricky.”

On Tuesday, McFadden learned that “Ricky” was LaMarche and discovered that he was wanted out of state on felony warrants, one from New Hampshire and nine from Massachusetts.

McFadden learned where LaMarche was likely to be that night and that he might try to run if the police came after him. He also learned LaMarche was considered dangerous because of possible gang connections in Massachusetts.

Armed with that information, McFadden assembled a team consisting of Waldo County Deputy Sheriffs Dale Brown and Damien Stone, Troopers Porter and Smith, and Searsport Officers Steve Saucier and Eric Bonney. The team then went to Frankfort late Tuesday looking for LaMarche.

“We knew where he was and we knew the lay of the land where we thought he might run,” McFadden said Thursday. “We wanted to have numbers on our side when we went up there and we were right. He did run into the woods and Troopers Porter and Smith tracked and found him lying face down in the woods and took him into custody without incident.”

McFadden said LaMarche confessed to stealing the cars when interviewed at the police station early Wednesday morning. Pyle also confessed when confronted Wednesday afternoon and indicated that the keys had been left in all five of the vehicles that were taken, the detective said.

When asked whether the two men gave a reason for their behavior, McFadden replied that “they said they wanted to have some fun.”

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