MACHIAS, Maine — Inside information and good police work helped the Washington County Sheriff’s Department and other police agencies crack several burglary and theft cases that stretched from Lubec to Machias, Sheriff Donnie Smith said Wednesday.
Smith said his office has been investigating the burglary and theft complaints for the past few months.
“In the recent weeks, sheriff deputies received information that was vital in cracking these cases wide open,” he said in a press release. “A total of eight individual burglaries and thefts were solved.”
One clue led to another in solving the cases, he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
It all started during the late hours of Feb. 26, when police learned that the Giant Panda Restaurant on Route 1 in East Machias was forcibly broken into.
“Burglars fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of money and other property,” the release said.
Then, during the early morning hours of March 2, several businesses on Route 189 in Lubec were broken into, including Uncle Kippy’s Restaurant, Murphy’s Restaurant, The American Legion Lubec Post and Rahilly’s Redemption Center.
“All of the businesses were forcibly entered and three of the four businesses suffered significant losses,” the release said.
On April 7, the Designs by Aaron jewelry store and the Sheer Perfection hair salon in Machias were broken into. Several thousand dollars’ worth of jewelry and an undisclosed amount of cash were stolen, the release said.
Two more thefts on April 20 and 26 followed that break-in, when the same residence in Machias was broken into during daylight hours. “As a result of these daytime breaks an undisclosed amount of money and other items were stolen,” Smith said in the release. “This residence was cased and entered when the owner was away at work.”
On April 27, Adrian Simmons, 23, of Machias was arrested and charged with burglary.
On May 29, Priscilla Tenney, 26, of Machias and Walter Heathcote, 20, of Biddeford were arrested and charged with burglary.
All three have since been released on bail.
Two days later, Kristopher Preston, 22, of Roque Bluffs was summoned and charged with burglary.
Smith said Heathcote and Simmons were charged with burglary and theft at the Giant Panda, while Heathcote and Tenney were charged with the residential break-in in Machias on April 20.
Smith alleged that Heathcote was alone when he broke into the same residence in Machias on April 26.
The sheriff also alleged that Heathcote, Preston and several other people were responsible for the four burglaries and thefts in Lubec in March. Heathcote was solely responsible for the burglary and theft at the jewelry store and hair salon in Machias, Smith said.
The names of the other co-defendants who may be involved in the case are not being released at this time, Smith said.
Smith said in the telephone interview that he expects all of those charged would make their first court appearance sometime in July.
The sheriff said Maine State Police and the Machias Police Department worked hand in hand with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department to resolve the cases.
“Several days and hundreds of man-hours went into solving these cases,” he said.